8000 empty homes or a resolution to the police dispute?

Okay, the police want their modest pay increase backdated to September – as the independent pay body recommends. They will be balloted on whether or not to lobby parliament for the right to strike.

No money! cries the government.

Ah, but what’s this?

More than 8,200 homes rented by the Ministry of Defence for use by military families in England and Wales are unoccupied, the BBC has learned.

Figures show 20% of married quarters are empty, but cost taxpayers £28.78m a year in rent paid to a housing company.

The MoD rents another 1,884 properties from private landlords, at a further cost of £11m per year.

The Lib Dems said the figures were “incredible”; the MoD said it was trying to reduce the property surplus.

Some of the unoccupied homes have been judged to be in too poor a state to house tenants.

In 1996, the Conservative government sold 57,000 married quarters in England and Wales to Annington Homes Ltd.

The company now leases 41,000 back to the MoD, which then takes on any maintenance issues.

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