Last July, the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace MP, announced a significant investment in military accommodation. As the part of the MOD responsible for managing housing for military personnel and their families, it has fallen to DIO to decide how and where best to spend it – a very nice problem to have!
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll be hearing a lot about this over the next year, so here’s a rundown.
The Government investment is a £200m funding injection, of which we will spend £122m on upgrading 3,500 service homes throughout the UK. Some properties are receiving a full refurbishment, while others will see smaller but still significant improvements with a minimum investment of £25,000 per property.
It’s a condition of the funding that it must be spent within 18 months, so we and our industry partners, Amey, have had to work very quickly to identify where the money can be best spent and then to put our plans into action. Around 800 homes which have been empty for a long time are being targeted first to reduce disruption to families. We looked at our own data and feedback from residents to work out where we could do the most good. A number of play parks in military housing areas will also see significant investment, giving many children improved places to play.
It’s not just Service Family Accommodation either. My colleagues in our training estate team are investing £38m of the £200m funding on a nationwide Net Carbon Accommodation Programme and £6m on refurbishing accommodation at Longmoor Training Camp. This will improve facilities for troops when they are training away from their permanent base. The remaining £34m will be used for improvements to some Single Living Accommodation facilities in Army barracks, RAF stations and naval establishments.
First move in
As I said, we’ve had to move very quickly to make this happen. In fact, a couple of weeks before Christmas, the first family was able to move in to a home refurbished with this investment. It was great to see how much the Angus family appreciated having a house which was effectively brand new in many ways. Their home has been refitted, with a new kitchen, bathroom, downstairs toilet, heating pipework and radiators, boiler, electrical wiring and fittings and flooring.
Artex ceilings were removed, walls were completely re-plastered and new carpets and curtains were added. In addition, the house got a new roof, windows and doors, external lights and some new fencing. New loft insulation and external wall insulation were also added, greatly increasing thermal efficiency to save energy, reduce the family’s heating bills and make sure it’s a warm family home through the winter. This is pretty typical of the sort of improvements thousands of service families will enjoy.
Investment in military accommodation
The benefits from these improvements, both in family homes and on the training estate, will be felt by more than just the people living in them. This investment programme will provide work to dozens of companies, many of which will be small and medium enterprises local to the area. We expect it to sustain around 2,000 jobs in the construction sector – a welcome boost in the months to come.