'Floods, mould and rodents': MoD must do better on housing, says chairman of defence select committee

13 March 2023, 08:25

Tobias Ellwood has told LBC that the current housing situation for armed forces personnel is sad
Tobias Ellwood has told LBC that the current housing situation for armed forces personnel is sad. Picture: LBC/Alamy
James Gooderson

By James Gooderson

The MoD has said personnel and their families deserve a far higher standard of accommodation service than many have been receiving after LBC heard details of living conditions in armed forces property.

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Tobias Ellwood, the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, said the current housing situation for armed forces personnel is sad and that the MoD and armed forces are not meeting its responsibilities.

LBC informed Mr Ellwood of two separate cases where armed forces personnel are dealing with unacceptable housing conditions.

Chris, who has been in the army for 20 years, has been dealing with a mould and rodent problem in his house.

Photos seen by LBC show heavy and persistent black mould across the walls and ceiling of the bathroom.

He said: “Due to the fact that I’ve got a child with autism and a one-year-old, obviously those two are going to become paramount due to illnesses and failure of understanding. I need to take their livelihood into consideration."

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Member of the armed forces dealing with mould and rodent problem

Anna, the partner of a member of the armed forces, said she came home from holiday to find their house flooded.

She said “There was water coming out of all the plugs, sockets, lights, every crack in the ceiling. We had paint bubbling up through the walls.”

It meant that Anna and her family had to spend seven hours in late December sitting in their car in holiday clothes waiting for alternative accommodation.

Anna is frustrated that she had previously raised issues with the water system in the past.

Mr Ellwood told LBC: “It is sad to see this has not been resolved… if we want to retain that professional reputation, we can’t just invest in equipment and training alone and ignore the standards of accommodation that people and personnel actually live in.

"They spend more time in their barracks than in operations, it’s so important that army accommodation meets basic modern standard. Yet again the armed forces, the MoD is not meeting its responsibilities.”

Military Homes are owned by the Defence Infrastructure organisation which is part of the MoD. They have contracted with three companies for the handling of the homes with the contracts worth at least £640m over seven years.

Anna, the partner of a member of the armed forces, told LBC she came home from holiday to find their house flooded.
Anna, the partner of a member of the armed forces, told LBC she came home from holiday to find their house flooded. Picture: LBC
Anna's house after the flooding
Anna's house after the flooding. Picture: LBC

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson told LBC:  “Armed forces personnel and their families deserve a far higher standard of accommodation service than many have been receiving. 

“The MoD is working with its suppliers to make sustained improvements via rectification plans that focus on the key areas of concern.  In addition, MOD’s contractual rights to withhold payments from suppliers are being exercised and deductions will be made as appropriate.

“The backlog of repairs has reduced - with thousands of jobs resolved - following urgent meetings I had with the key contractors, but we will continue to work tirelessly to improve the situation long term.

“Part of that work includes the £185 million we’ve committed to improve housing standards, with more than 14,000 homes receiving an upgrade in the last two years.” 

A Vivo spokesperson said: “Military families understandably want their homes to be kept well-maintained and ensuring that happens is very important to us.

"We are currently investing heavily in additional staff and resources to deal with an increased demand for our services, some of which - such as burst heating pipes and damp and mould issues – was brought about by the recent severe winter weather.

“We are also taking on new customer care resources to liaise with families and speed up maintenance works where needed.

"These measures are helping improve our recent performance, but there is still more to do and we are planning more investment to further increase our teams and resources throughout this year.”

"We had paint bubbling up through the walls," Anna said.
"We had paint bubbling up through the walls," Anna said. Picture: LBC
Mould covering the sofa
Mould covering the sofa. Picture: LBC

A spokesperson for Pinnacle Service Families said: “Any delays or inconvenience experienced by families is unacceptable and we apologise for the anger and frustration this causes. 

"In recent weeks, we have substantially increased the number of staff handling calls from families and are now answering calls in 20 seconds on average.

"We are working closely with Amey and VIVO, the Ministry of Defence’s regional contractors who are responsible for carrying out repairs on all military housing to ensure we continue to improve response times and service.”

“We continually monitor our performance and will do whatever we can to make sure families get the service they would rightly expect.”

Amey did not respond to a request for comment.

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