Armed Forces personnel and their families living in filth as they face 1,000 sewage leaks a year

Ministry of Defence sign and toilet

The Government faces criticism as military personnel are subjected to a torrent of sewage issues

Harvey Gough

By Harvey Gough

Published: 20/09/2023

- 18:31

Critics have called the newly revealed figures ‘shameful’

The Liberal Democrat Party has appealed to the Government to "urgently improve" the accommodation for Armed Forces personnel after a huge number of sewage leaks were reported in just twelve months.

According to a Freedom of Information request issued by the party, there have been a total of 1,186 cases of issues with sewage in a year.

Reports included backed-up toilets and kitchen sinks, blocked sewage and foul water drains, and follow on from a series of maintenance issues which have plagued the families of military personnel.

Richard Foord MP, a former Army Major and the Lib Dem’s defence spokesperson called the report "shameful".

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"Providing a decent home should be the bare minimum, yet the Conservatives continue to place our service personnel and their families in accommodation which is too often totally inadequate."

"Having served with soldiers who are affected, I know just how important it is that we value them properly and treat them with respect, instead of simply assuming that they will put up with it as this Government seems to."

In a tweet from earlier this year, Foord also said: "No one should be forced to choose between their career and their loved ones. Yet that is a reality for some of our service personnel, as military housing is not what it should be."

The report comes despite an investment of at least £144million in 2022 by the Ministry of Defence to maintain these accommodations.


Military Housing

​Military housing has been a common cause of armed forces personnel leaving the service in recent year


A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: "We take the quality of our accommodation very seriously and we are investing £400million to improve military housing and ensure service families have the standard of accommodation they rightly deserve."

"Many reports of sewage issues are minor leaks and partial blockages, which are resolved quickly by our contractors. Incidents are prioritised on the severity of the issue and whether other facilities are available for personnel and their families."

The report comes amid a growing trend of military personnel leaving the service.

According to a report from July 2023: "In the 12 months to 31 March 2023 there was a negative net flow of personnel, meaning more people left the force than joined it. The negative net flow was over four times larger than the previous year."

Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace spoke about military housing conditions in Parliament earlier this year


Meanwhile a survey from May of this year found that the most commonly cited reason for leaving the Armed Forces was "the impact on family and personal life".

Concerns about military accommodation came up earlier this year in Parliament when Ben Wallace MP, Defence Secretary at the time, was questioned on the generally poor conditions.

He told the Commons: "In some areas they have made progress, in some areas their progress is comparable or better than the private sector."

"There is still work to be done on it, I’m most concerned about mould and dampness… in areas around heating we have seen some success."

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