Documents to download

The maintenance and repair of service family accommodation has long been an issue for armed forces personnel.

In 2016 the Public Accounts Committee said service families have been “badly let down for many years” and are not getting the accommodation service they “have a right to expect”.

Ministers have described the performance of new contractors, who took over responsibility for maintenance and repairs in 2022, as “unacceptable”. The Shadow Defence Secretary has described current issues with mould and lengthy waits for repairs as a “straight-up scandal”.

Over half of personnel are dissatisfied with requests for, and the quality of, maintenance and repair work of their service family accommodation.

Specialist companies provide maintenance and repair work

Responsibility for maintaining and repairing service family accommodation has long been contracted out to specialist providers.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) is responsible for the defence estate. This includes allocating service family accommodation (SFA) and procuring and managing routine maintenance and repair.

In 2021 the DIO awarded new contracts. Pinnacle Group manages the overarching national accommodation management services contract. It acts as a single point of contact for accommodation issues for personnel. Two other companies, Amey and VIVO, are responsible for carrying out repairs and maintenance. The contracts came into effect in April 2022.

Complaints about maintenance and repairs

Complaints about the service provided by the new contractors began to emerge in the latter half of 2022. Service families have reported issues with response times, missed appointments and lengthy delays to resolve loss of heating and hot water.

In November 2022, the average response time for urgent requests by VIVO and Amey was four days, rather than the 48 hours required in their key performance indicators. On one day in mid-December 2022, 163 homes had been without heating for over 5 days. There are also ongoing issues with mould and damp in some homes.

The Government’s response

In September 2022, the DIO wrote to service personnel apologising for the poor level of service experienced under the new contracts.

MPs have raised concerns with Ministers in Parliament, including in an Urgent Question in December 2022.

Alex Chalk, the Minister for Defence Procurement, responded by saying the performance of the contractors has not been acceptable. The MOD ordered all three companies to implement rectification plans in September 2022. These plans include recruiting additional staff, the provision of temporary heaters, and the use of alternative accommodation when required. The Minister has also suggested financial penalties may be applied.

In the new Defence Accommodation Strategy, published in October 2022, the Ministry of Defence has committed to ensuring personnel can access accommodation that is “of good quality and in line with modern living standards“.

This paper discusses some of the current issues with the repair and maintenance of service family accommodation. 

Documents to download

Related posts