The Ministry of Defence has allowed its military bases to deteriorate so badly it risks undermining the Armed Forces' readiness to fight, according to a report.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said the MoD's failure to invest sufficiently in much of its estate could jeopardise the delivery of new and existing military capabilities.
It also added that poor housing for service families was affecting morale and making it harder to recruit personnel.
The report warned that financial pressures had meant only essential maintenance was carried out on barracks, depots and bases, resulting in a 'steady decline' in their condition.
It highlighted problems including:
•A threat to the operational ability of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, due to a lack of funding to replace 80-year-old power cables at the Portsmouth Naval Base (pictured above).
•Failing to fix a leaking roof at the medical centre at RAF Valley led to the building deteriorating so badly it had to be demolished.
•The Army's main vehicle supports and storage site at Ashworth in Gloucestershire was left incapable of keeping vehicles at a very high level of readiness.
•RAF Brize Norton, the home to the air-to-air refuelling fleet, had to have its fuels infrastructure shut down for safety reasons, due to a lack of maintenance.
Responding to the report's claims about the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers, a spokesperson said:
"Portsmouth Naval base will be ready for the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2017. The power delivery infrastructure required to support the arrival of the Aircraft Carrier has been fully assessed and, where necessary, upgraded."
Despite plans by the MoD to sell 25% of the estate by 2040, the report claimed there remained an £8.5 billion shortfall over the next 30 years. It said: "There is a significant risk that the poor condition of the estate will affect the department's ability to provide the defence capability needed."
"As the estate's condition deteriorates, some parts may wholly or partially close. This will exacerbate other risks and could reduce operational readiness."
It said the private sector consortium run by Capita had failed to deliver the expected transformation in the way it was run, despite the group receiving £90 million in taxpayer funding.
Capita was awarded the 10-year contract running the defence infrastructure organisation (DIO) in 2014, even though it was struggling to manage the Army’s recruitment programme at the time.
The NAO said there had been "fundamental weaknesses" in the contracting process, that Capita had not "performed adequately against agreed key performance indicators" and that many in the military had lost confidence in the DIO.
A Capita spokesperson said: "The report recognises our positive impact on DIO, helping them improve a number of programmes providing essential support to the Commands. These include delivery of the Estate Optimisation Plan (Footprint Strategy), the Army Basing Programme and workplace safety. We have injected significant industry expertise in areas such as Property management, Airfields, PFI, and Building Information Modelling.
"There have been challenges outside of our control however the report acknowledges that progress has been made despite these."
A Ministry Of Defence spokesperson said:
"This is an important report and we are determined to deliver a better defence estate. That’s why we’ve outlined a long-term, military-led strategy, to invest £4 billion in: training facilities fit for our strong and modern armed forces and better accommodation to deliver more stability for military families."