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Service family accommodation has failed families for years

The Public Accounts Committee report says Government must take decisive action now to improve the accommodation service provided to Armed Forces families.

Report conclusions and recommendations

In the Committee's report, it concludes the Ministry of Defence and contractor CarillionAmey are "badly letting down service families" by providing them with poor accommodation and often leaving them without basic requirements.

The Committee describes CarillionAmey's performance as "totally unacceptable" and says it is right that the MoD is considering terminating the contract.

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

Current accommodation model "not flexible enough"

It concludes the MoD's current model for providing accommodation for families is not flexible enough to meet 21st century needs and arrangements for addressing families' concerns are inadequate.

The report includes an appendix which gives summarised examples of cases received by the Committee from service families, setting out their concerns about accommodation.

Among its recommendations to Government, the Committee says the MoD must explain what it will do to improve the way it consults with families "when setting policies and agreeing contracts that will impact upon their lives".

Contractor should "meet or exceed" obligations

It should ensure CarillionAmey or any replacement contractor "meets or exceeds" its estate maintenance obligations for the lifetime of the contract.

Steps must be taken to ensure future contractors are capable of delivering the agreed service at the agreed price, and an effective penalty/incentive regime put in place.

The MoD should also write to the Committee promptly when a decision is made whether or not to continue the contract with CarillionAmey, setting out the evidence on performance supporting this decision.

Committee comments

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, 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 CarillionAmey and the Government. The MoD seriously misjudged CarillionAmey’s capacity to deliver a service which CarillionAmey 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.

Reports of improvements in recent months are still to be verified and will be of little comfort to those who have borne the brunt of long-standing failure.

We are now at a crossroads and the Government has a decision to make. Either it works with CarillionAmey to improve and sustain standards, or it takes steps to ensure a new contractor delivers the service required.

On behalf of service families and the wider public we will expect to see evidence to support whichever path it chooses."

Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, a member of the Committee who led questioning during its inquiry, said:

"It is unacceptable that service families should have to live in substandard and poorly maintained accommodation.

“CarillionAmey signed the Armed Forces corporate covenant yet has failed to ensure its customers—service personnel and their families—receive the service they expect and deserve. The result has been misery for many people.

I hope the MoD will now drive improvements whether it be with CarillionAmey or a different contractor.

Service families have been empowered to contact their MP with any concerns they have in future. I would strongly encourage them to do so and we will be ready to listen."

Report summary

The Ministry of Defence and its contractor CarillionAmey are badly letting down service families by providing them with poor accommodation, and often leaving them for too long without basic living requirements such as heating, hot water or cooking facilities.

It is unacceptable that such problems with service housing have continued for many years. In certain cases, frustration with the failure to undertake small-scale repairs may be driving some highly trained personnel to leave the military, wasting the investment made in them.

It appears to have taken the Secretary of State's intervention to secure improvements from the contractor, CarillionAmey, although we await confirmation that progress is real and can be sustained.

MoD must decide whether to retain CarillionAmey

In the coming months, the Department must decide whether to retain the contractor, based on evidence of an improved and sustainable level of service.

Regardless of that decision, the Department has an opportunity with the announcement of the Future Accommodation Model at the end of 2016 to better tailor its housing to the needs of service families in the 21st century.

We plan to scrutinise progress later in the year as part of a wider inquiry on defence infrastructure.

Further information

 

Channel website: http://www.parliament.uk/

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