The UK Defense Ministry is ?doing nothing? to fill more than 1,300 vacant properties near its bases, local lawmakers claimed
Conservative politicians in Britain have accused the Ministry of Defense of "doing nothing" to accommodate Ukrainian refugees, even though 1,350 military homes sit empty across the county of Wiltshire alone. Hundreds of Ukrainian families currently living with British hosts may soon be left homeless.
The British government's 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme saw more than 156,000 Ukrainian refugees arrive in the UK since March, according to its data. However, with many of their British sponsors agreeing to host the new arrivals only for a period of six months and declining to extend, activists warned in August that as many as 50,000 could be left homeless by next year.
"I'm on the edge of a housing crisis now," Councillor Richard Clewer, Conservative leader of Wiltshire Council, told the Daily Mail on Saturday. "I have 360 Ukrainian families that are likely to need to leave host families because they have agreed to a six-month deal."
Clewer said that he has been attempting to "persuade" the Ministry of Defense to place these families in Army housing. As Wiltshire is home to around a fifth of the Army's soldiers, the ministry owns a stock of properties in the area worth tens of millions of pounds, of which 1,350 have been vacant "for at least five or seven years," the councillor said.
"They are doing absolutely nothing" to fill the homes, he continued. "I think it's a disgrace they have stayed empty this long. I could use them to house families that desperately need housing."
Tory MP Danny Kruger told the Mail that not only could these properties house Ukrainians, but also locals struggling with a shortage of affordable homes.
"I recognize the Army needs some spare housing for families who have to move at short notice, but this is a failure of management," Kruger said.
The Defense Ministry had not responded to the Mail's article as of Saturday afternoon, but it has previously said that some of the 1,350 homes are located on Army property and are reserved for military families.