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Parliamentary watchdog lambasts UK MoD over defence estate failures

An aerial view of Single Living Accommodation (SLA) blocks at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, when they were newly built in 2011. The UK defence estate contains roughly 96,000 buildings of all descriptions. (Crown Copyright)

The United Kingdom's defence estate is too large, costs too much, and attempts to reform and downsize it have been woefully inadequate, according to the parliamentary watchdog tasked with looking into the matter.

Publishing its latest report on 12 October, the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts noted that the UK defence estate is “vital in supporting military capabilities” but has “failed to evolve to meet the armed forces' needs”.

“The MoD [Ministry of Defence] is spending about twice as much a year maintaining the defence estate as it does maintaining the UK's nuclear deterrent, but, as this inquiry has disappointingly revealed, it doesn't know exactly what it spent GBP4.6 billion [USD6.3 billion] of taxpayers' money on last year – or what it should be spending it on,” Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, deputy chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, was quoted as saying in a press release accompanying the report.

“Over the last decade targets have been set and then missed by miles. The management was at first done in-house, then outsourced to contractors, and it has since been brought back in-house again and dissolved to the brigades,” he added. “It will take another four years to even establish an asset register on standards of condition of all the property that the MoD occupies. Yet in the May 2021 Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey only 34% of service personnel are satisfied with their accommodation.”

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