MORE than 11,500 Ministry of Defence homes are lying empty while thousands of veterans live on the streets.
Nearly a quarter of the MoD’s entire housing stock is unused.
Labour MP Gareth Thomas said: “I’m gobsmacked by these figures.
“It really is shocking and scandalous that all these homes are sitting empty and not being used when they could be used to house homeless former members of the armed services.”
The Ministry of Defence said in May that up to 4% of Britain’s estimated 320,000 homeless were ex-forces.
That means up to 13,000 veterans – many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – don’t have a home.
Mr Thomas said: “All these empty homes could plug that gap immediately.
“Given that these men and women have served their country – some of them going in harm’s way for us all – the very least we can do is provide them with a home at their time of greatest need.”
The MP wants to copy an American model where empty homes are given to military charities for them to set up housing co-operatives.
He said: “Housing co-operatives can provide accommodation for veterans, but also back that up with support such as counselling and employment advice to help them get their lives back on track.”
The worst hit area is Hampshire where 1,493 MoD homes are unoccupied.
Billy MacLeod, of the charity Veterans In Action, said properties had lain abandoned for years at Army headquarters in Andover, Hants.
He said: “It’s disgusting that there are veterans living on the streets when houses like this could be used for them.”
Of the 49,500 Service Family Accommodation homes in the UK, just over 38,000 are leased by the MoD from the firm Annington Homes Ltd.
These are properties that the MoD sold to Annington in 1996 as part of a controversial deal in which the MoD would then rent them back.
It means the MoD is paying millions of pounds in rent for homes that are not currently being lived in.
The MoD said a percentage of its housing stock would always be empty to allow for maintenance.
And that with military personnel regularly moving around the country, a certain number of homes needed to be kept in reserve.