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Armed Forces: Housing

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) rules, (b) procedures and (c) standards set up by his Department are for (i) quality evaluation, (ii) maintenance and (iii) allocation of housing; when these were last (A) reviewed and (B) modified; and if he will make a statement. (196972)

This Department keeps its estate under constant review to ensure that it is of the right size and quality to meet defence needs. All 70,193 Service Families Accommodation (SFA) properties worldwide are assessed by Grade for Charge (GfC), which takes account the physical condition of the accommodation and other factors such as location and closeness to amenities.

There are four levels of GfC, one being the highest and four the lowest. The “Four Tier Grading System” (4TG) is normally reviewed every four years and the Services agree how changes, which have taken place during the previous four years, will be reflected in the 4TG Regulations and whether the scoring criteria should be reviewed. However, this Department is currently conducting a review of the 4TG to ensure it is transparent and simple to understand.

Maintenance of SFA worldwide is carried-out under a number of separate contractual arrangements. The majority of properties are maintained by Modern Housing Solutions (MHS) who provide a response maintenance service to occupants via a freephone Helpdesk which prioritises calls on an emergency, urgent or routine basis. MHS also carries out planned maintenance, such as the replacement of items such as boilers and kitchens.

MHS is contractually required to provide this Department with monthly performance statistics and is subject to spot checks and percentage audits of work completed and in progress to ensure that contractual conditions and standards are being met.

Regulations governing the allocation and occupation of Service accommodation are set out in Tri-Service Accommodation Regulations (Joint Service Publication 464) which is reviewed continually, and was last updated in September 2007.