MILITARY chiefs are sitting on 1,000 empty family homes worth an estimated £160m, it has been revealed.
Despite the scandal of 1,000 military veterans living homeless north of the border, unused married quarters are sitting empty throughout the country.
With the average house price of £160,000 in Scotland, than means the MoD is holding on to millions of pounds of empty, well-maintained family homes.
They are also paying to maintain the empty properties at a significant burden to the taxpayer.
Figures released by the MoD show there are 946 homes sitting unused in Scotland.
It is believed that around 400 of the properties have been empty for more than 12 months.
The homes are empty because of the rapid shrinking of UK armed forces brought about by the end of the Cold War.
237 houses are empty in Argyll and Bute alone – home to the Faslane naval base that stables the nation’s nuclear submarines, and the former RAF base at Machrihanish.
There are 221 military homes empty in Fife, where RAF Leuchars was closed and handed to the Army in 2015.
Edinburgh – home to the Royal Regiment of Scotland – came third, with 169 empty MoD homes.
Meanwhile only one residence was empty in Caithness, Stirling, Ross and Cromarty, Orkney and the Shetlands.
The figures were revealed after former army officer Thomas Tugendhat – Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, in Kent, put the question to the MoD.
MoD figures revealed that as of May 24 a total of 10,219 homes across the UK were “void” – meaning they are unallocated, being maintained, refurbished or waiting to be sold or demolished.
Nearly half – 4,623 – have been empty for more than 12 months. Proportionally, this means around 400 have been empty for that period in Scotland.
Over 400 of the empty MoD homes are in the north of Scotland – at a time when more than 10,000 people are on a waiting list for a home in the Moray and Highland area alone.
Alasdair Christie, general manager of the Inverness Citizens Advice Bureau and Liberal Democrat councillor for the city said: “From a Citizen’s Advice perspective, I would like to see the government of any shade take properties left empty for an unreasonable length of time and put them back into use.
“It is not just the MoD. You often find it with police houses and religious houses for ministers.”
An MOD spokeswoman said they manage around 19,000 family moves in the UK each year.
She explained: “In order to achieve this, a management margin of void properties is held.
“This ensures that homes are available for families when required and allows improvement works to take place between occupants.
“The MoD queues houses for families instead of the other way round. Properties may be held over a period of time for a planned future requirement, for example a major unit moving to a new base.
“Alternatively, those properties may not be currently required because of their location, size or type but must be held to ensure that future demand can be met.”
Former Royal Marine Commando Ian Hopkins runs the Coming Home Centre for homeless veterans in Glasgow.
He said: “Housing has always been an issue for veterans, and to hear that the MoD have that many homes sitting free is quite shocking.
“The guys who we see in here every day are really struggling and to have somewhere secure to live would help them get back on their feet.
“It wouldn’t be that hard for the MoD to change their housing designation so that veterans could stay. We certainly could make use of the empty homes.”
Tommy Addison also volunteers at the charity.
He said: “The MoD say they are doing enough for veterans but as far as I’m concerned they could do much more.
“It’s incredible that we have veterans that need housing but can’t get it.”
A spokesman for the SNP said: “Given the problems faced by too many veterans when they leave service, it is incumbent on the MoD to ensure that they are making appropriate use of the homes they have at their disposal – and with 1,000 homes currently sitting empty, it seems that they are failing in this duty.”