Service families let down by standard of housing, MPs say

British soldiers Image copyright PA

Armed forces families are being given poor housing and are often left without basic facilities such as hot water and heating, MPs have said.

The Ministry of Defence and its contractor Carillion Amey were "badly letting down service families", a Public Accounts Committee report said.

The committee said the contractor's performance was "totally unacceptable".

Ministers said they would not hesitate to act against Carillion Amey, but the company said things were improving.

The MoD manages 50,000 properties for personnel, who are offered subsidised housing.

The committee said it was right that the MoD was considering terminating its contract with Carillion Amey.

'Poor service'

In some cases, frustration with a failure to carry out repairs may be "driving some highly trained personnel to leave the military, wasting the investment made in them", the committee warned.

It concluded that the MoD's current model for providing accommodation for families was not flexible enough to meet 21st Century needs and arrangements for addressing families' concerns were inadequate.

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Media captionOne soldier's story: "Our children were crying at one point because of the stink"

Examples given in the report include:

  • A service family returned from overseas to be allocated a house with broken pipes under the kitchen sink, an unusable gas hob and a dirty oven, a filthy entrance area and an active wasps' nest in the shed
  • The wife of a serviceman and his family, who were living in damp and mouldy conditions, spent up to two hours a day on the telephone for eight weeks and were not offered an alternative home, despite some being available locally
  • A service family was left without hot water and heating for several weeks, despite telling Carillion Amey they had a seven-week-old baby and a four-year-old
  • A serviceman said a lack of routine maintenance to his family's property resulted in significant structural damage which took over a year for Carillion Amey to repair

Committee chairwoman Meg Hillier said: "Forces families are suffering because of poor service under a contract agreed on terms that were wrong-headed from the start.

"Responsibility for this lies with both Carillion Amey and the government. The MoD seriously misjudged Carillion Amey's capacity to deliver a service which Carillion Amey accepts it was not equipped to deliver.

"It is completely unacceptable that families should have to move into dirty houses with broken appliances, or be left to care for children in homes without hot water or heating."

'Aggressive' plan

Defence minister Mark Lancaster said: "The service our personnel and their families were getting from Carillion Amey was simply not good enough.

"They deserve much better, which is why we took swift action once the problems became apparent.

"Carillion Amey rightly apologised and developed an aggressive plan of improvements. Progress is being made, but we will absolutely not hesitate to take further action if they don't deliver."

Carillion Amey managing director Daniel Easthope said its housing service was now "performing well".

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