Ministry of Defence faces historic age discrimination lawsuit that could cost ... trends now
Tens of thousands of British troops 'unfairly' charged to live in military housing could soon sue the Ministry of Defence in an 'historic' age discrimination lawsuit that could cost £100 million.
Lawyers from UK legal firm Leigh Day have launched a claim against the MoD, accusing it of overcharging some 80,000 young or unmarried personnel for housing costs.
British Army soldiers under 37, or over this age but who aren't married, pay for 'single living accommodation', while those over 37 and married are eligible for a valuable accommodation allowance. In the Royal Navy and RAF only those who are married or in a civil partnership qualify for this benefit.
Solicitors at Leigh Day argue the policy discriminates against younger or single troops who have been 'effectively subsidising' the MoD housing system to 'provide cheaper rent' to older or married troops.
About 500 serving personnel have expressed an interest in pursuing legal action, which if successful could see an average of £10,000 paid out to troops – hitting £5million in payouts. But experts claim the real cost could skyrocket if more come forward, potentially hitting a staggering £100million.
Up to 80,000 troops could be able to claim for being overcharged by the MoD, lawyers from Leigh Day have said (pictured: Single Living Accommodation in North Yorkshire)
Lawyers from Leigh Day said it was 'unfair' younger, unmarried troops were 'effectively subsidising the MoD's policy to provide cheaper rent to those who are older or married' (file photo of a soldier in Single Living Accommodation)
News of the legal action was branded 'unprecedented' by military veterans, with one former Colonel in British military intelligence adding: 'This will be a huge embarrassment for the Ministry of Defence.'
'It is totally unfair that so many younger or unmarried members of the armed forces have been effectively subsidising the MoD's policy to provide cheaper rent to those who are older or married,' Leigh Day solicitor Ryan Bradshaw told MailOnline.
'The Ministry of Defence has made some progress tackling the unfairness in its housing policies, but it is highly unlikely to compensate people for their losses unless they bring a legal claim against it.
'We want to ensure future generations of service personnel don't have to deal with out-of-date and discriminatory systems that favour people just because they are married and over a certain age.'
Currently, an unmarried Private in the army can pay between £30 and £80 a month for a single room, while senior officers like a Major, Lieutenant Commander in the navy or Squadron Leader in the RAF can pay between £68 and £229 a month, depending on the condition of the property.
While those living in larger family properties can pay anything from £105 for an unfurnished, smaller home, to £851 a month for a fully furnished, top-of-the-range one.
In 2021, watchdogs from the National Audit Office warned the MoD's housing allowance system could be potentially discriminatory.
According to the Ministry of Defence's own data, 4,360 personnel live in accommodation in such a state of disrepair that it can't be graded (file photo)
Despite this, Leigh Day said there has been 'no change to the policy' within the MoD and younger or single troops continue to stump up more for their housing.
The NAO probe found some 80,000 personnel were staying in single living accommodation and that more than half surveyed were 'dissatisfied' with the standard of the housing provided.
But some troops have faced living in squalid