Chris Evans MP: Carillion left our military families 'for weeks' without heating or hot water
Prior to its collapse last week, Carillion had been providing substandard service in many of its contracts, says Chris Evans MP.
Never is this more apparent in the way they have gone about managing accommodation for our service families.
With its partner Amey, together known as CarillionAmey, the company was contracted by the Ministry of Defence in 2014 to provide maintenance services for 47,000 homes for families of the armed forces.
Over a two year period, CarillionAmey consistently failed to meet key performance indicators. They badly let down service families by providing them with poor accommodation and often leaving them without basic requirements.
According to a damning report by the National Audit Office in June 2016, CarillionAmey's performance was totally unacceptable. In fact their performance was so appalling the Secretary of State for Defence called in the company to explain their conduct.
An appendix in the back of the report cited families with young children being left weeks without heating or hot water. Another family were given a property which they described as damp and mouldy, with stained carpets and filthy equipment.
One family spent weeks on the phone asking to be rehomed or to have somebody inspect the house, only for CarillionAmey to stonewall them. When they finally relented and sent somebody to the property all they did was paint over the mould – deplorable actions from a company being paid millions in taxpayer money.
In the wake of the evidence, how did the government respond? Despite threatening that the contract was to either be terminated or urgently reviewed, the government went ahead with extending the contract. They claimed the company had made a miraculous improvement and was now meeting its targets, even though this only occurred after the direct intervention of the then Defence Secretary.
Shockingly, the decision was taken a week after Carillion received their first profit warning. Despite the National Audit Office warning the government they had seriously misjudged CarillionAmey’s capacity to deliver a service which the company accepted it was not equipped to deliver.
To add insult to injury, CarillionAmey signed the Armed Forces corporate covenant yet have failed to ensure its customers—service personnel and their families—receive the service they expect and deserve. The result has been misery for many people.
Even though the contract will continue under Carillion’s partners Amey, there is a real opportunity for government to right the wrong for so many service families by terminating the contract.
To demonstrate how they value our forces families, the Ministry of Defence could directly oversee the management of service accommodation. We ask a lot of our forces personnel, it is imperative the government lets our service personnel know that they will not accept second-rate accommodation for their families.
Chris Evans is the Labour Member of Parliament for Islwyn