Increase in complaints about housing for soldiers in Scotland

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Image caption,
The data revealed that more than 500 complaints about housing were made to the MoD in 2016

Complaints about poor quality housing for soldiers in Scotland and Northern Ireland increased by 43% in one year, according to new figures.

Data obtained by BBC Scotland reveals that 621 grievances were raised in 2016, up from 433 in 2015.

They highlighted concerns about duration of works, communication and missed appointments, among others.

But Ministry of Defence contractor CarillionAmey said the number of complaints had fallen sharply in 2017.

The company was contracted to provide repairs and maintenance for service family accommodation in 2014.

Two years later a report by the Public Accounts Committee found that the MoD and CarillionAmey were "badly letting down" service families.

A spokeswoman for CarillionAmey said it had received 220 complaints so far this year.

She added: "Although we recognise there was a 43% increase in housing complaints between 2015 and 2016, we have seen a 42% reduction so far in 2017.

"Following improvements made in 2016 we are now meeting, and in places exceeding, the overall requirements of our contracts and have seen customer satisfaction increase. Our efforts were commended at the Public Accounts Committee in January 2017.

"We are always looking for ways to improve and recently met with soldiers and their families in Edinburgh to discuss what more we can do to support them."

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The MoD says it has spent millions of pounds on improving accommodation for service families

The latest statistics were provided by CarillionAmey to BBC Scotland after similar data emerged in a response to a Freedom of Information request made by the SNP to the MoD.

It suggested that complaints about housing had increased five-fold between 2015 and 2016 but the MoD has now admitted an "error" in the way it presented the information.

It did not make clear that the data it supplied for 2015 only referred to complaints made between September and December, rather than the full 12 months.

An SNP spokesman said: "This is doubly embarrassing for the MoD - not only was there an increase in housing complaints, they clearly have no handle whatsoever on the situation that is facing them.

"They need to get a grip of how extensive this problem is and take steps to improve accommodation for our service personnel who do such a valuable job."

An MoD spokesperson defended their record, claiming it was "actively encouraging" people to raise concerns about their accommodation to ensure they were addressed.

The spokesperson said: "We continue to improve the quality of our accommodation for the Armed Forces and their families, including invested £660m in improving housing over the last six years, and last year we refurbished 4,700 homes and spent £450m on keeping rent costs down.

"Figures to date for 2017 show a significantly lower number of complaints".

An earlier version of this story reported that complaints about soldiers' housing had increased five-fold in one year. It was based on information provided by the Ministry of Defence under Freedom of Information laws. The MoD has since clarified the information it provided.

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