Skip to main content

Service Family Accommodation

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2009

An asset survey of Service Family Accommodation (SFA) in England and Wales has been carried out as part of the Housing Prime Contract with Modern Housing Solutions. The survey was initially designed to compile an asset register (detailing for instance the make and model of boilers) but its scope was extended to collect “standard for condition” information and life cycle data for planning purposes. The results of the survey will provide improved management information to help us plan for the future and we will use the data from now on to inform reporting on the condition of SFA.

Of the 44,000 properties in England and Wales, to date we have analysed condition data for over 40,500 properties. The remaining properties will be surveyed between now and April 2010. Consideration is being given to undertaking similar surveys of SFA in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the properties are maintained under Regional Prime Contracts. A survey of the overseas housing estate is already in progress.

The survey was visual and carried out by professionally qualified surveyors. Over 300 items of data were collected for each property and the improved information resulting has led to changes in the numbers of properties in each of the four standards for condition (standard 1 being the highest and standard 4 the lowest).

Previously reported figures reflected the results of a condition survey undertaken in 1996. The more detailed information collected in the present survey has changed the balance between standard 1 and 2 for condition. Overall, around 90 per cent. of SFA in England and Wales falls within these two standards but 32 per cent. are now assessed at standard 1 and 57 per cent. as being at standard 2, broadly reversing the previous position. Standard 2 properties are considered to be of a high standard, and both those and standard 1 properties have been assessed by the NAO as meeting or exceeding the Government’s decent homes standard.

The condition of each property is assessed against eight groupings of items (for example relating to the building fabric, or kitchen). Each grouping receives its own Standard for Condition and the lowest of these decides the overall standard of the property. Hence a property could be assessed as standard 2 (rather than 1) if seven of its groupings are at standard 1 but one is at standard 2.

The number of houses falling into standard 4 has increased, though remains fewer than 450. Service families are no longer required to live in such properties, although some choose to do so. From 2012 no families will have to live in properties at either of the two lowest Standards for Condition. We remain committed to housing our personnel in high quality accommodation and this survey will help us achieve that objective.