Coronavirus: MOD To Refund Personnel Wrongly Charged Rent During Lockdown

The Ministry of Defence estimates it will cost between £10m and £15m to pay back those affected.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is refunding millions of pounds to military personnel who were wrongly charged rent during lockdown.

When lockdown began on 23 March, personnel in Single Living Accommodation, or Substitute Single Service Accommodation, who were not directly involved in the UK's coronavirus response or other vital operations, were sent home and ordered to work remotely in line with government measures.

However, those who left but were still charged during lockdown will now be repaid, units have been informed.

Captain Jerome Davis from the Royal Artillery wrote to the Soldier Magazine to complain that, while mileage and travel allowances had been immediately stopped, rental charges continued to be deducted from pay.

"What is difficult to fathom, though, is why service accomodation payments were not stopped at that time as well," he wrote.

"Many are feeling frustrated that there was an immediate suspension of a relevant allowance but not this charge.

"Can you help me understand this apparent inconsistency so I can accurately inform those who are equally miffed?"

In response, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Bowen, head of accommodation, personnel policy, confirmed a waiver had been agreed, describing it as a "complex topic that sits outside the current accommodation policy".

"This refund will apply only to those ordered to work from home," he added.

Personnel are able to claim a refund for the period from 23 March to 31 August. 

Ministry of Defence building
The Ministry of Defence apologised to those affected (Picture: PA).

The MOD estimates it will cost between £10m and £15m to pay back those affected.

An MOD spokesperson told Forces News: "We of course apologise for anybody inconvenienced by this.

"Charges will be fully refunded with nobody left out of pocket."

Around 52,000 Armed Forces personnel are in Single Living Accommodation and are charged between £27 and £200 a month, depending on their rank and housing conditions.

Lt Col Bowen said those applying for the reimbursement must update their details on the Joint Personnel Administration system.

Further instructions will be issued to those affected by local lockdowns after 31 August, he added.