Empty military homes must be option to house Ukrainian refugees, says Sturgeon

The First Minister backed up a call by MSP Gordon MacDonald for empty MoD housing to be considered.

31 March 2022

Military homes that are currently lying empty could help give “true sanctuary” to Ukrainians fleeing the war in their homeland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The Scottish First Minister said the option of housing refugees from the war in vacant military properties owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) “must” be considered.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament she said: “The humanitarian crisis here and the scale of it means it is important that all housing options are fully explored.

“I believe MoD housing should be, must be, considered as part of this process.”

SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald has written to the Defence Secretary on the issue (Lesley Martin/PA)

She was asked about the issue by SNP MSP, Gordon MacDonald, who has already written to the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, urging him to bring some 11,000 MoD homes that are not currently  occupied, back into use.

The Edinburgh Pentland MSP said: “In my constituency, around the Dreghorn and Redford barracks, there are many MoD family homes that have been left empty for many years.”

And he asked the First Minister to support his call for the “UK Government to consider the use of hundreds of empty MoD homes in Edinburgh and across Scotland to house people being displaced as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine”.

Ms Sturgeon said while the UK Government has sole responsibility for MoD properties, she would welcome “making empty homes available to support displaced people from Ukraine”.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, she added: “The Scottish Government is already bringing together key partners to ensure effective co-ordination of plans to address the accommodation needs of people who are settling in Scotland, so we are committed to working with all partners to ensure all arrangements in place are safe, sustainable and offer true sanctuary for those fleeing the war.”

In his letter to the Defence Secretary, Mr MacDonald said that” it would be a failure of the Ministry of Defence not to utilise these properties to provide a safe, warm home for displaced Ukrainian people”.

He urged the UK Government to “take this forward as a priority, working with the Scottish Government and the local authorities”.

An MoD spokesman said: “The UK Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme has seen an unprecedented surge of public support, with sponsorship offers from across all four nations of the UK.

“As we manage up to 16,000 service family moves every year, we need to retain vacant homes across the UK, but we are looking at what we can do around this.”

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