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Armed Forces: Housing

Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) longest, (b) shortest and (c) average period of time taken was to make repairs to forces accommodation after a call out in the last period for which figures are available.

Mr. Kevan Jones [holding answer 11 January 2010]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 6 July 2009, Official Report, column 552W, to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox).

Additional information is currently being collated and verified. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Substantive answer from Kevan Jones to Willie Rennie:

In my answers of 13 January (Official Report, column 995W) I undertook to write to you with details of the number of calls made to the Department’s accommodation helplines and details of the longest, shortest and average periods of time taken to carry-out repairs to Service accommodation.

The repair and maintenance of Service accommodation worldwide is carried out under many different arrangements, managed by different areas of the Department. Given this fact, the requested details for Single Living Accommodation worldwide and Service Family Accommodation (SFA) overseas are not held centrally and can only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Repairs to SFA properties in the UK are carried out under the Housing Prime Contract (HPC) in England and Wales, the Regional Prime Contract (RPC) in Scotland and separate arrangements exist in Northern Ireland (NI). In all cases, occupants can report faults and request repairs via a freephone helpdesk.

The HPC is being delivered by Modern Housing Solutions (MHS), which is responsible for maintaining some 45,000 properties. The MHS helpdesk received some 393,656 calls in 2009, of which some 226,889 resulted in work orders being raised. Although the total number of calls regarding SFA in Scotland and NI is not available, the RPC raised 15,424 work orders for Scottish SFA in 2009 and 11,148 were raised for NI SFA.

The longest, shortest and average times taken to carry out repairs on UK SFA in 2009 are as follows:

Repair time (in days)

Emergency repair

Urgent repair

Routine repair

England and Wales SFA (HPC)

Longest

12

22

39

Shortest

Less than 1

Less than 1

Less than 1

Average

Less than 1

4

8.5

Scotland SFA (RPC)

Longest

1

23

59

Shortest

Less than 1

1

1

Average

Less than 1

4

11

Northern Ireland SFA

Longest

3

43

60

Shortest

Less than 1

Less than 1

Less than 1

Average

1

6

10.7

The MOD contracts set the response time for attending emergency repairs as three hours, repairs to remedy or make safe are to be completed within 24 hours and subsequent rectifications in line with urgent and routine timescales. Urgent jobs would include a partial loss of essential facilities such as heating or hot water, and are to be attended within seven working days. All other jobs are classed as routine, and are to be attended within 20 working days.

From the way the data are held, it is not possible to identify the specific reasons why the longest repairs took the time they did to complete. In general, repairs can take longer based on a number of factors, including the complexity of the work, whether accommodation is occupied or the availability of parts and materials that are required to finalise repairs. In many cases the fault is made good at the first visit, but additional work is required to complete the repair. (310247)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 8 February 2010, Official Report, column 654W, on housing, how much his Department spent on those properties in 2008-09. (317117)

It is not possible to separately identify maintenance and other housing costs for individual service family accommodation properties.

Contribution in lieu of council tax is paid on these properties; however the individual cost per property cannot be readily identified.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received on standards of service accommodation for service personnel and their families. (317449)

I have recently received representations from the three armed forces family federations regarding the standards of service accommodation. I will be replying to them shortly, addressing the issues they raise.

In addition, as the House is aware, I regularly respond to questions and correspondence from hon. Members and the public regarding the standard of accommodation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) service family and (b) single living properties designated as empty were subsequently removed from his Department's housing stock in Scotland in each of the last five years. (317785)

Those service family accommodation (SFA) properties in Scotland that are declared surplus to requirements will be held empty prior to being sold on the open market. To date, the following numbers of properties were sold in each of the last five financial years:

Financial year

Number of SFA sold

2005-06

238

2006-07

242

2007-08

107

2008-09

407

2009-10

134

1 To date.

Single Living Accommodation (SLA) is normally located within the wire of a defence establishment and therefore can be sold only as part of a wider disposal. Although details are held of Scottish establishments sold in the last five years, the amount of SLA included could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 February 2010, Official Report, column 810W, on armed forces: housing, who rented each of the 17 properties listed in the last 12 months. (317887)

In accordance with data protection principles and for security reasons, the Department does not disclose the details of service families living in service accommodation.