Armed forces families being ‘badly let down’ by housing contractors

Defence minister Mark Lancaster
Defence minister Mark Lancaster
Members of the ship's company of HMS Ocean gave aid to hurricane victims

PICTURE GALLERY: Royal Navy's aid for hurricane victims

  • Military families left without hot water or heating for weeks
  • MPs warn the situation is driving troops to leave the military
  • Portsmouth campaign group says the current state of armed forces accommodation is ‘lamentable’
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FURIOUS armed forces families are being forced to live in very poor conditions without the most basic provisions, a scathing report by MPs has claimed.

The Ministry of Defence and its contractor Carillion Amey is ‘badly letting down service families’, says the Public Accounts Committee.

Morale in the forces is low, and sinking, with valuable members of the services choosing to leave because of their growing dissatisfaction with military life

Andy Smith, chief executive of UKNDA

The cross-party group of MPs said the contractor’s performance was ‘totally unacceptable’, with some families being left without hot water and heating for months,

Failure to provide adequate housing could ‘be driving some highly-trained personnel to 
leave the military’, the MPs also warned.

Meg Hillier, the scrutiny committee’s chairman, said: ‘Forces families are suffering because of poor service under a contract agreed on terms that were wrong-headed from the start.

‘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.’

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

Ministers say they would not hesitate to act against Carillion Amey, but the company insists things are improving.

The committee said it was right the MoD was considering cutting ties with the contractors.

It concluded the MoD’s current model for providing housing was ‘not flexible enough’ to meet the needs of service families in the 21st century.

The report highlighted a number of examples where service families had been blighted by poor housing.

One family, who returned from overseas, were allocated a home with broken pipes under the kitchen sink, an unusable gas hob and dirty oven, and an active wasps’ nest in the shed.

Another was left without hot water and heating for weeks, despite telling Carillion Amey they had a four-year-old child and seven-week-old baby.

Andy Smith is the chief executive of Portsmouth-based armed forces campaign group the UK National Defence Association.

He said: ‘Morale in the forces is low, and sinking, with valuable members of the services choosing to leave because of their growing dissatisfaction with military life, and there is no doubt that inadequate accommodation is one of the factors contributing to this lamentable situation.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘I receive a number of complaints from service families in my constituency concerning the disrepair of some properties.

‘Many feel they receive lower quality housing as a direct result of being employed in the Armed Forces. This is completely unacceptable and needs to change.’

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.’

He added: ‘Progress is being made, but we will absolutely not hesitate to take further action if they don’t deliver.’