Armed forces housing condemned as 'disgraceful'

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The Independent Online

A scathing report by MPs has condemned the "disgraceful" accommodation in which Britain's armed forces are living and said the situation can only be fuelling the retention crisis.

The blunt report from the Defence Committee comes the day after the Royal British Legion said the country and the Government are failing to live up to their duty of care to servicemen and women and the time has come to honour the Military Covenant.

The UK military is nearly 6,000 below full strength at a time when it is stretched to its limits in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The committee insisted that it was "unacceptable" that the Ministry of Defence had not put a clear strategy in place for tackling the issues, despite significant investment over recent years. Although they acknowledged that some newly completed accommodation for single personnel was "magnificent", major problems were identified with other sites. Chairman James Arbuthnot said: "Especially at a time when we are asking the Armed Forces to put their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan, they deserve to be decently housed at home."

The Royal British Legion's "Honour The Covenant" campaign is fighting for a fairer compensation system for soldiers returning with terrible injuries; better medical care including honouring a promise that they are given priority care in the NHS system and for better treatment of the bereaved waiting years for inquests.

The armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth said: "We are determined to address the legacy of substandard accommodation and have committed to spend £5bn over 10 years to put it right."