THE Ministry of Defence’s lack of strategy for its land and buildings is wasting taxpayers’ money and resources that could support frontline personnel and develop new military capabilities, a report by the Public Accounts Committee has found.

The MoD is one of the largest landowners in the UK with a diverse estate of some 240,000 hectares valued at some £36 billion. In the year 2019/2020, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found the MoD spent £4.6bn on the UK’s defence estate – around twice the annual cost of maintaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

In its report, the committee highlighted the importance of the defence estate as “vital in supporting military capabilities, and its condition affects the lives and welfare of our service personnel”. However, it claimed that around 40% was built more than 50 years ago and “30% is in an unacceptable condition”. Moreover, it has “not tackled the long-known problems with the poor quality of its estate, which continue to harm the wellbeing of service personnel”.

“By retaining unneeded estate, the department wastes resources that could support frontline personnel and develop new military capabilities,” the report continued.

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“This constant cycle of delay and internal reorganisation is not helped by the fact that 11 years after this committee first identified problems with the lack of estate data and 10 years since it established the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, the department is still several years away from having sufficient data on the condition and running costs of its sites to inform decisions on optimising use of the estate.”

Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, PAC deputy chair, insisted there is a “disastrous lack of estate strategy” within the department.

He said: “The MoD is spending about twice as much a year maintaining the defence estate as it does maintaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent but as this inquiry has disappointingly revealed, it doesn’t know exactly what it spent £4.6bn of taxpayers’ money on last year – or what it should be spending it on.”

He added: “Our report indicates that there is a disastrous lack of estate strategy within the MoD which is taking an unnecessarily large amount of resources from the front line.”