Forces homes complaints 'on rise'
By Angus Crawford
BBC News

Complaints about military accommodation appear to be a growing concern, a support group for British service personnel has said.

The Army Families Federation said 59.4% of complaints made to it were on housing, compared with 39% in 2005.

Last year, BBC News received photos of barracks and shower blocks with cracked walls, mildew and broken pipes.

The MoD said it was committed to high-quality accommodation and 8bn was being spent in the next 10 years.

Area 'unsafe'

The AFF said it got "well over 1,000" calls a year from service personnel.

For the first time the organisation is also measuring forces' general worries about the local area.

It said 16% per cent of complaints were about issues such as dog fouling, vandalism, fly tipping, security and broken street lighting.

One caller told the AFF: "Area not safe - vandalism, fly tipping, rats."

Others had different concerns about service family accommodation.

"The play park has derelict sheds and a broken toilet exposed that the children are playing with," said one.

Another added: "Youth vandalism - phone box glass broken and not cleared - unsafe for children and pets".

No wardens

The AFF blames the situation on the fact that there are no longer wardens looking after each military housing estate.

Private company Modern Housing Solutions took over day-to-day maintenance of 40,000 military homes in England and Wales in January 2006 in a contract worth 690m over seven years.

However, the AFF said the MoD did not require the firm to provide wardens, so they disappeared.

We will use this data as part of our ongoing commitment to listen to our people and improve the services we provide
MoD statement

Melanie Pullan from the AFF said: "We're getting people coming in from the outside.

"It's a bit like a spiral. Once you see a bit of graffiti, there's broken glass, the fly tipping starts."

The AFF said that in some garrison towns with a large number of soldiers away it can leave families feeling vulnerable.

Other figures released by the AFF show that 46% of people who contacted them said they would be happier if their spouses were not in the Army.

The MoD said: "We will use this data as part of our ongoing commitment to listen to our people and improve the services we provide.

"99% of emergency, urgent and routine repairs are completed within the right timescales.

"We are committed to providing the highest standard of accommodation for our armed forces and their families.

"That's why we are spending over 8bn on accommodation in the next decade."

After the BBC News website was sent picture of poor accommodation by service personnel, the Army's personnel chief Lt Gen Freddie Viggers pledged to fight for better housing for soldiers and their families.

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Published: 2008/04/28 19:10:24 GMT