Yesterday the Sunday Post reported the lack of decent homes for thousands of service personnel. It would appear many are being put up in hotels and rented properties because of the present housing situation and it's a costly business.
Meanwhile, the article continues, 11,000 MoD homes sit empty, many judged in too poor a condition to be habitable.
Until the 1980s military personnel had to live either in billets or messes (for the single people) or army quarters (for the married). The rules did not allow for anyone to use a privately purchased home and claim removal expenses. A few did buy homes if they knew they were to be leaving the services within a few years, but owing to the regular mobility of the services and the costs involved selling and buying another property in another area, this wasn't common.
In the 80s the rules changed and more personnel decided to buy their own property. These were usually married individuals who otherwise would have occupied a quarter and of course, the result was more and more quarters began to stand vacant. In 1996 the MoD offloaded 57,600 homes under a controversial sale-and-lease-back scheme. The private firm involved sold off houses it deemed surplus to requirement, since when the MoD has increasingly relied on private rentals.
This article states 'Taxpayers fork out £6 million a month on rented flats and houses for forces personnel and their families'. That gives the impression military housing is free to personnel and it certainly is not.
Any personnel who wish to live in quarters or billets pays rent and all the usual domestic household bills. The rents are set by the Mod and are slightly less than council house charges.
Say for example, a single Major in the army is posted 200 miles away from his small flat in Bristol for six months. His hours of work will be varied and he's aware, because he will not be able to travel back regularly to his own home, he will require accommodation which the MoD are contracted to provide if requested. The Major, as well as paying his monthly mortgage on his own property has to pay rent on his MoD provided property. Renting out his own home isn't much of an option for a six month period because of the costs involved, so his property stands vacant and he's well out of pocket. He doesn't complain because he knew, when he decided he wanted to buy his own property, that this type of situation may well arise. Of course married personnel with their own homes are in a similar situation - paying for their accommodation away from home, but they know the family home is occupied.
Such a big difference between MPs isn't it? Taxpayers pay all the expenses of their accommodation away from home as well as much of the rent or mortgage on their family home.
A Major receives £20,000 (before annual increments) less than an MP as basic salary. He has no chance of employing his spouse, or any of his family, to increase the family income. His travel must always be second class, never first class. He pays for his dress uniform out of his own pocket and in many cases these days the cost of that alone can be a few thousand pounds.
Yet we have politicians and their supporting commentators saying MPs should be paid more. 'They work hard and have long hours'. A few weeks in the shadow of any serving military person would certainly show our politicians how privileged they are and how little they do - they're not worth another penny of our money.