Rishi funds better homes for Armed Forces families

Thousands of Armed Forces families across the UK – including at Catterick Garrison – will have their housing and accommodation improved and renovated thanks to nearly £200m of new Government funding, Rishi has announced.

On a joint visit to Catterick Garrison with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Rishi talked to soldiers about the ways the improvements will help them.

More than 5,000 personnel, plus their families, will have homes renovated and modernised with new kitchens, bathrooms and furnishings.

As part of the funding injection 3,500 service homes will be upgraded as well as single living quarters. This will improve life for UK Armed Forces personnel deployed at home and abroad to keep the nation safe, including in the fight to halt the spread of COVID-19.

The work will also make UK Armed Forces estates more environmentally friendly. New windows and doors will provide better insulation, energy efficient boilers will drive down bills, and solar panels and electric vehicle charging points will reduce the carbon footprint.

Families with young children will benefit from new play areas, roads will be resurfaced and energy efficient street lighting will help modernise sites as part of the funding.

Rishi made the announcement jointly with the Defence Secretary during the garrison visit when the Ministers talked to service personnel and the families about life during lockdown and their contributions during the COVID-19 crisis.

Servicemen and women based at Catterick were involved in building two of nation’s Nightingale hospital – including one at Harrogate – which were designed to take COVID-19 patients if other local hospitals ran out of capacity. They also providing planning assistance for the NHS and advice and support in delivering the COVID-19 testing process.

The investment is expected to sustain around 2,000 jobs through the work on housing improvements including plumbers, electricians, painters and decorators. Upgrades will begin in late summer and will be delivered over a period of two years.

Rishi said: “Day-in, day-out, our Armed Forces make huge personal sacrifices for our country, and it is our duty to ensure they have the best conditions possible.

“This news doesn’t just mean service homes across the country will be upgraded, but will see 2,000 jobs in sectors where they are needed the most, like plumbing and decorating – delivering our Plan for Jobs.”

Over the last four years £530m has been invested in improvements to Service Family Accommodation. The additional £200m funding package will continue to improve the standard of both homes for Service families and single living accommodation on military bases.

Improvements to accommodation sit alongside a suite of recent changes to military accommodation to make it more accessible and flexible for personnel and their families.

The MOD recently introduced new flexible working arrangements, expanded offerings to cohabiting couples and extended the Forces Help to Buy scheme until the end of 2022, giving service personnel the chance to get a foot on the housing ladder. This has allowed them to borrow a deposit of up to half of their annual salary, interest free, to contribute towards buying a home, moving house, or building an extension.

This follows the announcement earlier this month that military children will be entitled to free breakfast and after-school childcare as part of ongoing measures to further support the UK Armed Forces and their loved ones.