Cover picture courtesy of CarillionAmey.
The below article was written by a Forces News reader about their experience of living in military accommodation run by CarrillionAmey.
After 21 years of living in married quarters and now moving into our 14th quarter, our recent experiences with CarillionAmey, as well as with DIO local representatives, have been some of the worst that we have experienced.
This reinforces the opinion of many military families, that there is absolutely no investment in military housing or indeed families.
Our quarter was not presented at a standard for march-in.
It had untreated damp and mould throughout various rooms, various fittings not functioning - including broken kitchen drawers and a wardrobe in the main bedroom beyond use due to mould and damp.
Various appliances were not working, e.g. a broken TV aerial, shower, kitchen extractor fan and a leaking toilet.
Trip hazards had not been rectified, e.g. a broken front doorstep, loose carpet fittings with burns and tears with the ageing, and worn carpets not cleaned beyond a routine vacuum.
There was a severe lack of grass in the back garden, although the extensive weeds and moss had been cut.
The shrubs and plants in the flower beds had been hacked back with large dangerous stumps left sticking out of the flower beds.
The quarter was vacated in May 2017 and we moved in during August 2017.
The question has to be asked why were these repairs not completed prior to our arrival when ample time was available for CarillionAmey to do so?
As a result, we have spent the last five months battling with CarillionAmey and DIO to have the damp and mould problem treated properly and not just patched up as it has been in the past.
CarillionAmey surveyors have acknowledged that these quarters do have a mould and damp problem, but no one appears to want to take any responsibility for this and instead prefer to hide behind out of date policies and the standard line of "there is no funding".
Endless appointments have been made, with CarillionAmey often assuming that my husband and I are always available at short notice. For example, we were notified on a Saturday that we have a Monday morning appointment.
On some occasions, having waited in all day, appointments have not been attended by the contractors.
We have had three appointments in a row arranged by CarillionAmey for work to be completed in the roof space.
Each of these appointments has been missed, yet the contractors have claimed that they had no access to the house on the first and that the work was completed on the second, neither of which was true.
This brings the contractors' integrity into question.
This is an ongoing complaint for which the complaints manager failed to contact us on the agreed date and time.
Another example of CarillionAmey's incompetence is sending two gardening contractors to the house to remove dangerous tree and shrub stumps, but without any equipment other than their bare hands, stating that their equipment was broken.
We are not alone in our predicament and experiences to date, and it is frustrating that no one is able to hold CarillonAmey to account in delivering services.
They should provide an important element of the Armed Forces Covenant, in their words, by "delivering essential infrastructure and housing services".
CarillonAmey also claims that it "care[s] about the work we do and the families we serve," adding "we are committed to listening to feedback from our customers and improving our service".
I am not sure the evidence here, and the experiences most military families have had, would support this.
CarillionAmey's communication, feedback and customer service is, in short, appalling and the customer is not central to any of their deliberations.
Busy families simply do not have the time to sit in and wait day after day for basic repairs to be carried out, and the assumption from CarillionAmey that anyone is able to take off a half day's work on a regular basis is inappropriate in the modern world.
There is no follow-up once repairs have been made. The complaints department tell a good story and make empty promises, but these are simply never delivered.
We are all too aware of the current financial situation, however, surely it must be more cost effective to repair an issue properly and only once, rather than do the minimum to patch the job up only to return several times after.
Given this quality of service and lack of investment, it is hard to understand how anyone can justify implementing a programme which seeks to increase rent year on year with no obvious improvements in service, maintenance or modernisation of housing.
The DIO and CarillionAmey have just communicated with military families to inform them of the increases they will be expected to pay over the coming years based on, in our case, inaccuracies in the detail.
In response to our challenge over the detail, their response was that this wasn't the detail they had noted during the survey.
Not all properties were surveyed. Our house was not surveyed. Yet assumptions have been made and there is an unwillingness to correct these by DIO.
There are also many examples of inconsistencies in grading between houses, including some that are beside each other.
All military families have a right to basic, clean and safe living environments.
There has been a noticeable decline in the service provided to families and housing standards over our 21 years, yet many families put up with this or make the decision to live separately from their serving husband, wife or partner.
This article was written by a Forces News reader about their experience of living in military accommodation run by CarrillionAmey.
Forces News has contacted CarillionAmey for comment.