Call for action as 1000 military homes in Scotland are empty

Gordon MacDonald MSP said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) owns 1,087 properties in Scotland that are unoccupied.

Action: SNP say empty properties could be used by homeless veterans.
Action: SNP say empty properties could be used by homeless veterans.

The SNP has issued a call for action after it revealed more than 1000 military homes in Scotland are empty.

Gordon MacDonald MSP said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) owns 1087 properties in Scotland that are unoccupied but could be used by homeless veterans.

Data gathered by a freedom of information request found the number of empty MoD homes in Scotland has risen by 57% since 2013, from 690.

More than 1000 properties have been unoccupied each year since 2017, the figures suggested.

MoD policy means some of their homes are left empty to allow for personnel to be moved from different parts of the country, while others are sub-let on the private market.

Statistics from the Scottish Government, published in the summer, show 993 veterans made applications to local authorities to be considered homeless in the past year, a rise of 74 from the previous year but almost half the 1,918 applications in 2007-08.

The SNP suggested the homes could be brought back into use to support military veterans who have become homeless, saying the UK Government department has a “duty of care” to former personnel.

The party said some of the properties in Scotland would require repairs but it was unclear how many are currently habitable.

Mr MacDonald said the Scottish Government has worked to stamp out empty properties north of the border.

In November, the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee called for more to be done by the Scottish Government, including imposing compulsory sales orders to tackle the amount of empty homes in Scotland – currently estimated at around 3% of all households.

Mr MacDonald said: “Veterans deserve to be supported by the UK Government and it’s tragic that some veterans find themselves homeless.

“The MoD has a duty of care to veterans and should do everything they can to help those who struggle.

“Yet for three years, more than 1,000 MoD owned homes have sat empty – many of which are perfectly suitable for use.

“It’s not right that those homes lie empty and it is in their gift to put them to good use and support ending homelessness.”

A spokeswoman for the MoD said: “Military personnel move around the country regularly and a certain number of homes need to be kept in reverse to accommodate them.

“While the vast majority of former service personnel transition successfully into civilian life, no-one, including veterans, should spend their lives on the streets.

“The MoD allows veterans who have recently left service to remain in service family accommodation for up to 12 months in order to allow them and their families to adjust to civilian life.”