Military families given £1 voucher for damp homes

New Zealand forces welcome Ben Wallace with a Haka

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Soldiers were handed sleeping bags and children developed viral infections and were forced to sleep in their coats while they were waiting for repairs to their homes which took weeks in some cases. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been urged to “get a grip of the problems and get tough on outsourced contractors”.

Military families who suffered leaky roofs, mould, broken boilers have been offered as little as £1 in compensation.

Captain William Matthews served in Iraq and Afghanistan and posted a video online of his two-month-old baby sleeping next to mould.

Captain Matthews said that he is living in a “cold house all the time” with “damp everywhere”.

Private contractor Pinnacle was given a £144million contract in March to manage 49,000 military accommodations in the UK.

The company has been forced to answer questions after it set up a helpline for families with an automated message advising them to heat their pipes with hot water bottles or warm clothes.

Last weekend Mr Wallace tweeted: “I have been contacted by a number of people about the inadequate response by @PinnacleSF @mod_dio @VIVODefence.

“I have directed those responsible for accommodation services to up their game. I shall be speaking to all the Chief Executives directly early next week.”

The Defence Secretary met with the companies responsible for the state of the accommodation on Tuesday to pressurise the executives to respond to complaints.

Compensation to the families from Pinnacle comes in the form of shopping vouchers.

Those with failed boilers but who were issued portable heaters were given a £1 voucher for every 24 hours without their boiler.

Following backlash, the company increased it to £20 while those who were unable to live in their homes get a £25 voucher for each night spent in a hotel, as do those who were unable to use their ovens.

According to Alex Chalk, the defence procurement minister, data shows that 5,322 vouchers have been issued since April.

John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, told The Times: “It is shameful that this government has left service personnel and their families without heating during the coldest Christmas for more than a decade, and it’s an insult to hand out vouchers worth as little as £1 instead of fixing problems promptly.

“No more excuses. The defence secretary must get a grip of the problems and get tough on outsourced contractors, so our forces have homes they are happy to live in.”

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In response to the ongoing crisis, the Ministry of Defence said: “We care deeply about our people throughout their service and beyond.

“They make remarkable sacrifices, including their support to our public services following industrial action, and we are committed to helping them in different areas of their lives.

“This includes offering the biggest pay increase in 20 years, freezing daily food costs, providing generous accommodation subsidies, and saving [them] up to £3,000 per child per year by extending wraparound childcare.

“The defence secretary and defence ministers held a meeting [on Tuesday] with the heads of Pinnacle, Amey and Vivo to address the ongoing problems with service family accommodation.

“It is completely unacceptable that some of our personnel and their families are not receiving the level of accommodation services that they deserve.”

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