WE MOVED into our quarter in December 2014 and noted a number of problems, including mould in the kitchen and rubbish dumped in the communal areas.
The housing officer also told us about a blown double glazing window and assured me that it would be replaced. Someone came out to measure up and we told him that the windows didn’t seal tight, making our daughter’s bedroom very cold. The man said he would order new hinges and come back in about seven days.
We submitted a long list of problems to the housing office and heard nothing. We phoned the helpdesk who said they would send a surveyor out in three weeks.
By the New Year, there was still no news so we called the helpdesk again; they knew nothing about the window hinges. Because our daughter was freezing in her bedroom they agreed to bring the appointment forward a week.
The surveyor listened to all my concerns, but I got the impression that he felt the poor quality of housing was reflected by the low rent and that other houses on the estate were worse than ours.
He questioned whether I had ever lived in Army housing before and told me I have no rights as I am a licensee, not a tenant and that it was my responsibility to keep on top of mould.
We logged a formal complaint. Since working with a customer care manager we have managed to get some of the jobs done.
It took three visits to repair the double glazing unit. A man turned up but was unable to proceed as it was a two-person job because a ladder was needed. Then the same happened when they came to fix the window hinges.
We were annoyed and called the helpdesk, who said only one hinge had been ordered so the job couldn’t be done.
My husband phoned the customer care manager and two men came to do the job that same day, so I question whether the helpdesk are incompetent or liars.
It turns out the surveyor holds no qualifications – the actual job title is technical adviser. When the heating engineer arrived to advise if a thermostat could be fitted, he told us he couldn’t do the job without a new work order from the technical adviser. When I spoke to the technical adviser, he said I should see my housing officer.
Our daughter has been living in a cold, draughty bedroom with condensation running down the walls. It has taken 35 days to make her bedroom habitable and I feel that all CarillionAmey can say is that other houses are worse and I should be grateful I have low rent.
I have lived abroad and in my own home for the last nine years so perhaps my expectations are too high, but why should Army families be forced to accept such poor standards?
Name and address supplied
Response from Anna Soubry MP, former Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans: Substantial progress and investment has been made in recent years to improve the quality of SFA. However, I am aware of the issues that some personnel have faced and it is unacceptable that these problems continue.
That is why I have been in regular contact with CarillionAmey, personally holding them to account to ensure they deliver the service and standards our families deserve. It is disappointing that there have been problems and I have been assured that services will improve. I will continue to make sure those improvements are felt by our personnel and their families.
Response from Dave Trotter, operations director of CarillionAmey: We recognise that the mobilisation of the new National Housing Prime contract has brought with it a number of challenges for us operationally, some of which have affected some families directly.
We are sorry if you have been personally affected. We remain focused on improving our new processes, developing our people and improving our customers’ experiences in line with our contract.
We have undergone a recruitment programme during the first three months of the contract, appointing accommodation officers and completing the transfer of staff into the organisation from DIO, as well as setting up our occupancy services team and DAS operation.
We also recognise that improvements need to be made for us to deliver on our promises and to provide a service in line with our contract. We assure you that we remain focused on this.
Above all we consider it a privilege to serve our Armed Forces community. We take this responsibility seriously and trust this will be self-evident in the organisation we aspire to become.