Future Accommodation Model: How Might The Scheme Shape The Future Of Army Housing?

The MOD is trialling it at Aldershot Garrison for the next three years as part of a tri-service project to assess future needs.

The Army is trialling a pilot scheme to assess future housing needs of personnel.

The Future Accommodation Model (FAM) is being tested at Aldershot Garrison over the next three years.

Soldiers are being offered the choice of remaining in existing service accommodation, subsidising rent in the private sector, or even financial assistance to buy their own properties.

The ability to provide modern-living accommodation to single soldiers and service families has been a point of contention for years, amidst accusations some housing was sub-standard and not well-maintained.

Lieutenant Colonel Des Hendry, SO1 FAM Implementation, told Forces News that to be eligible, you must have four years service in the Army, with 12 months left in a current assignment, or 12 months remaining in the Army. He said it is open to all full-time regular soldiers, or those in full-time reserve service but on full commitment.

For some on camp, the private rental sector is appealing.

Army photographer Corporal Rob Kane said it would allow him to invite guests without needing to make a booking.

Major Dennis Melia, Royal Logistics Corps, believes a rental property would be more convenient for his wife's work and his son's school.

"We've decided to totally settle, and then I will move around with my work accordingly, so it just leaves less disruption for my family, and enable us hopefully to improve our quality of life as a result", he said.

For those choosing the rental option under FAM, the MOD will provide a core allowance of £125 and extra money relative to rental postcode and family sizes.

For a single soldier in Aldershot, it works out at £400 per month.

More than 1200 troops at Aldershot garrison are being encouraged to look at alternative accommodation options.

Single living accommodation on base costs £100 per month, so Forces News asked a local estate agent what you could expect for the same money if you added in the £400 allowance.

"Well certainly not a flat, not a one-bedroom flat. You'd be able to get a room, including the bills. For more than that if they wanted a flat, it would have to be a minimum of £650/£700 and then you've got your bills on top of that", Raewyn Greer told Forces News.

"I think, quite seriously, that £500 is not going to probably get them very much," she added.

There are wider concerns the introduction of FAM could mean a reduction in the amount of service accommodation in the long term.

Chief Executive of the Army Families Federation, Sara Baade said: "SFA [Service Family Accommodation] is such a core element to Army life, and families are worried that going forward - yes there will be other options such as living in your own home, etc, but will SFA be as readily available as it is now to our very mobile Army families?"

However, those involved with the implementation of the pilot say the future of service accommodation is safe.

"There were thoughts that maybe FAM was all about selling off families accommodation - it's not," Lt Col Hendry said.

"The MOD has got a wider plan for how they look at their estate," he added.

The Defence Estate Optimisation Plan is looking at how we look at the wider estate.

"There will be units in maybe isolated locations that maybe close down and are drawn to bigger garrisons."

Aldershot is the second site to launch the FAM pilot.

The Navy is running its own at Faslane, and the RAF will launch a pilot at RAF Wittering at the end of May.

Results will then be assessed in 2022 and used to influence a final decision expected in 2023.