Complaints about soldiers’ housing increases five-fold
Complaints about poor quality housing for soldiers in Scotland increased five-fold in one year, according to new figures.
Data released under Freedom of Information (FoI) reveals that there were 517 complaints in 2016, up from 101 in the previous year.
Edinburgh MSP Gordon MacDonald, who has three army bases in his constituency, said the figures were “shocking”.
The Ministry of Defence said it spent £660m on housing in the last six years.
The FoI request, which was submitted by the SNP, found that the MoD has received 768 complaints about accommodation since 2015, including 150 so far this year.
They highlight concerns about the duration of works, communication and missed appointments, among others.
It comes after a report by the Public Accounts Committee concluded that the MoD and its contractor CarillionAmey were “badly letting down” service families.
CarillionAmey were contracted to provide repairs and maintenance for service family accommodation in 2014.
However concerns were raised about the contractor’s performance amid reports that soldiers and their families were living in “squalid” homes and the defence secretary intervened to demand improvements.
A new charging system introduced last year also saw 81% of service families paying more rent.
Gordon MacDonald, who represents Edinburgh Pentlands at Holyrood, said: “This is a shocking rise in complaints in one year, and shows just how badly the MoD have handled changes to soldiers’ accommodation.
“Service personnel do an extraordinarily difficult job and deserve better than botched repairs and poor workmanship in their homes.
“The MoD need to consider these failures very carefully and make sure that these mistakes are not repeated.”
However an MoD spokesperson defended their record, claiming it was “actively encouraging” people to raise concerns about their accommodation to ensure they were addressed.
The spokesperson said: “We continue to improve the quality of our accommodation for the Armed Forces and their families, including invested £660m in improving housing over the last six years, and last year we refurbished 4,700 homes and spent £450m on keeping rent costs down.
“Figures to date for 2017 show a significantly lower number of complaints”.