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Married soldiers in housing wrangle

Married soldiers living in Army accommodation could be forced to leave their homes if proposals being considered to reduce services housing are adopted, it has been reported.

The move would force serving members of the Armed Forces onto the commercial property market if the MoD adopts proposals to end the right to a home after eight years, The Times said.

One former head of the Army told the newspaper he understood the need to reduce the bill for accommodation but said additional funds must be made available to buy or rent private property with ease.

General Lord Dannatt said the MoD risked creating a system of "weekly boarders" if they did not. "It is not the right way to be. We have enough forced separation through deployment and training exercises," he said.

Cutting the housing entitlement to around eight or 10 years of service is understood to be the preferred option although a deadline is yet to be agreed, the paper reported. Afterwards, military families would have to find accommodation for themselves.

Major-General Patrick Cordingley, a retired commander, said the move would place additional strain on military families: "It would be a bit of a let down. Soldiers who get married are expecting to be relieved of the worry of where they are going to live while they are serving. I think (being made to find their own accommodation) is something that soldiers will find difficult."

At present serving personnel who are married or in civil partnerships are offered subsidised accommodation to make a long-term military career as attractive as possible.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "A report is due for consideration by the Defence Board in the summer of 2012."

A spokesman for the MoD added: "We are currently transforming our Armed Forces as in line with what was set out in the SDSR. The New Employment Model is looking at a range of measures to ensure the support we provide our Service Personnel matches their evolving needs under Future Force 2020. No proposals have yet been made as to what will be included in the final package."

Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy, said: "The sacrifice of Service requires fair treatment for as long as someone is in the Armed Forces. No disadvantage should arise from choosing to fight for your country. If the Government fails to provide sufficient support for forces' accommodation people will consider that they do not understand the difficulties of military life, including the need to move and re-home in new communities."


From Belfast Telegraph