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Last Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007, 18:19 GMT
Cut in funding for defence homes
By Stephen Stewart
BBC Scotland news website

The Ministry of Defence's housing budget in Scotland has dropped by almost 8m in the last year, according to documents obtained by BBC Scotland.

Some families said they have had to endure poor married quarters.

Documents which revealed a major fall in spending on housing were obtained under freedom of information rules.

MoD officials insisted that they have continued to invest in housing stock and have received a relatively small number of complaints each year.

Churchill estate
Derelict homes on the Churchill estate have been vandalised

In 2006/7, the MoD spent 20.7m on service families' accommodation compared with more than 28m the year before.

Over the same period, there was also a rise in the number of complaints about the housing stock.

The Churchill housing estate, near Helensburgh, is one of a number of sites around the country with homes built for MoD staff.

It contains houses which were constructed for Royal Navy staff serving at the nearby Faslane base.

Some Navy wives there said the area's decline was all too apparent in the smashed windows and graffiti on derelict buildings.

It has got to the stage where I don't even know where to turn to
Karen, Royal Navy wife

Karen, who is married to a sailor and has lived in married quarters for almost 10 years, said: "It has got to the stage where I don't even know where to turn to. I have problems with damp and the general lack of maintenance.

"I had a pipe burst in my bathroom and I had to wait years for the damage to be fixed.

"It's upsetting for my husband to be off at sea for months at a time with all this on the back of his mind.

"It used to be that standards were extremely high but now it is as if no-one cares anymore. It's all about money and they seem intent on letting this place fall to wrack and ruin."

'Extremely high'

Louise comes from a Royal Navy family and has lived in MoD housing across the UK for most of her life.

She was shocked to see the conditions of MoD homes in Scotland.

She said that the general decline of the area's housing had led to more anti-social behaviour.

She said: "I have stayed in married quarters in Portsmouth and Plymouth and this is the worst place by a long way.

"It seems that no matter how long you complain, it never gets noticed."

Faslane Naval Base on the Clyde
The Churchill estate caters for staff who work at the Faslane base

The MoD said it managed nearly 4,000 homes across Scotland with 1,600 changes of occupancy each year.

Despite the high volume of work undertaken, officials said customer surveys consistently demonstrated that more than 95% of occupants were fully satisfied with the housing service they received.

An MoD spokeswoman said that recent accommodation improvements at Faslane and Glencorse barracks had created some of the best military housing in the UK.

She said that if the Glencorse project was excluded from the figures, actual expenditure on housing in Scotland had increased over the past five years.

The spokeswoman added: "Some housing that is now surplus to requirements is being sold and that money will be ploughed back into defence estates.

"All complaints are taken seriously and are being addressed. Complaints are very few when you consider we have thousands of service men and women working in Scotland."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Ruined houses on a Naval housing estate



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