01 Head of DIO Accommodation letter to all families in UK SFA
James Savage, Head of DIO Accommodation, recently wrote to all families via email regarding the issues with the new contract – see below. If you missed it, do check your junk folder in case it’s in there.
Our new contracts for Service Family Accommodation came into service earlier this year.
Unfortunately, we have had some technical issues that have resulted in some families not receiving the family-first service we promised. In particular, these issues have led to families experiencing the frustration of booking maintenance appointments, only for these to be missed by our contractors. We have worked hard with our suppliers to implement technical fixes and we have put in place manual procedures to minimise any further disruption. We are really sorry for the inconvenience caused to those families affected by this disruption.
I can assure you that customer service and improving the lived experience for you and your families are our top priorities. We continue to work with the Family Federations to ensure the needs of service families are understood, and that we provide clear and regular communication.
As with all new contracts, there are aspects which are different to the previous one and FDIS is no exception. We know that there are some current issues with the new contract regarding missed appointments, reporting of complaints and claims for compensation.
It is important that you to continue to raise repairs, and log complaints and compensation claims using the correct process and keep your own records – once you have done this, please do contact the AFF housing team on email@example.com
Here, Cat Calder, our Housing Specialist, provides information on the issues which have appeared within the first few weeks of FDIS.
Under the previous contract these repairs were considered critical and were attended within 3 hours – after this appointment, if a first-time fix wasn’t possible, it would be moved to either an urgent (5-day) or routine (15-day) response
Under FDIS the critical and urgent categories have been merged. However, the timeline is now that jobs are to be fixed first time within 48 hours and all should be attended as soon as possible.
The classification of some jobs as urgent is currently being reviewed (eg loss of heating). AFF will provide an update when there is any more information on this.
Initially there was some confusion over this and whether it was 48 hours or 48 working hours – this has been clarified as 48 hours from first reporting it.
Routine appointments will be booked when you call the job in and you should be offered appointments within 12 working days. This should enable you to choose more effectively the best appointment which works for you.
You should be offered evening and weekend appointments – if you aren’t, and you would prefer one, please ask while you are on the call.
You will initially be offered a 4-hour window. On the day of the appointment you will get a text with a one-hour appointment window and will then be able to track your engineer (currently not available in Amey areas).
Urgent jobs have a slightly different process depending on whether you are under VIVO (South East/South West) or Amey (Central and North)
VIVO – When you call in an urgent repair Pinnacle will be able to see the available appointment times on the VIVO system and will offer you one there and then.
Amey – Pinnacle will log the need for an urgent repair with Amey who will then call you back to book an appointment within 1 hour.
If you have young children or vulnerable family members in the house please ensure that you make Pinnacle aware when you log the repair.
Currently you can call in a complaint via the National Service Centre (NSC) phone line or log one online. AFF is aware that families are not necessarily receiving a complaint reference number in a timely manner or further communication once logged and has raised this to Pinnacle, which has committed to work through all complaints as quickly as possible. Please be aware that recruitment issues may cause a longer than expected delay. Keep an eye out on AFF social media and the website for more information.
Please make sure that you take a screenshot of the online form or keep a copy of your email so that you have an audit trail if necessary.
Compensation can be claimed for
You must submit your claim within 28 days of the issue occurring
Please allow 20 working days for a response and check your junk email folder
AFF is aware that there are currently delays with compensation vouchers being issued and has raised this to Pinnacle.
These do not appear to be included in the new contract – on raising this to DIO and Pinnacle they took an action to review and are working on a process to include these in the contract going forward. Until this is agreed please do include the requests within the desired outcome of an official complaint and they will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
Electricity – £1 per day – under the previous contract this was to compensate for the increase in combined fuel costs, bearing in mind that you would probably not be using as much gas during this period. Currently this is not covered in the FDIS contract.
Food allowances – DIO is in discussion with Pinnacle about an allowance in line with previous levels (£25 per adult per day, £10 per child per day). This has yet to be finalised.
During the winter months (1 October to 30 April) or at any time if there is a vulnerable person in the house heaters will be offered to families on the first visit if they are unable to fix the problem first time.
Families will be offered alternative accommodation which could include hotel accommodation if a repair issue arises which makes your home uninhabitable. Pinnacle will arrange this and food allowances will be payable if you are moved into a hotel. AFF has asked for more detail on how this will be actioned and will update this page when we have more information.
AFF has flagged to DIO that under the previous contract families were allowed to leave 4 picture hooks per room and would not have them noted on the 14-day report.
Under FDIS no picture hooks are to be left – AFF challenged this and asked if ’grandfather rights‘ would be given to those who moved in under the previous contract but move out under FDIS where move-in/move-out (MIMO) standards have changed.
DIO has stated that the FDIS MIMO standard will apply but that common sense will be used in certain circumstances.
If you feel that you are being charged for something you accepted on move-in under the previous contract as it was part of the move-in standard, make sure that you challenge this in person at the pre-move out or the move-out appointment and if a charge is still noted that you annotate it as ’disputed’.
This is a new inclusion in the FDIS contract and is designed to help families to complete the 14-day list so that the correct things are noted and that anything which should be classed as a repair is called in. It is your opportunity to ask any questions or reminders of information given at move-in (eg where’s the stop cock?) and to flag up any issues discovered as you moved your belongings in – AFF would encourage all families to take this appointment when offered it.
Amey and VIVO are two separate contracts and, whilst meeting the basic contract requirements, some differences may be seen between suppliers. If you move between the two, don’t assume that, because the new supplier doesn’t offer exactly the same service as the other, they are failing. Amey and VIVO are working closely together to ensure that what works in one area is picked up in another where appropriate so this will encourage best practice, eg
Amey deliver welcome boxes at move-in
VIVO will text you within 30 minutes of an operative leaving your house to ensure that the service was up to standard; this is live information which enables them to jump on issues rapidly so please do respond to the text. The more responses they get, the better the picture they have, and this will enable operatives to be praised or training put in place to improve behaviours.
The HomeHub portal was never intended to go live at the start of the contract – as it engages with the scheduling tool which the NSC team uses. It was decided that it should only be implemented once any IT problems have been worked through. It is likely that the portal will be live at some point in September this year and it will allow you to log repairs and complaints and follow them through without the need to contact the NSC directly.
Testing is ongoing and the rollout will be in two phases:
Registration and authentication
Self-service of repairs etc.
Keep an eye out for more information on our website.
Under FDIS, and as requested by families during the design process, evening and weekend appointments are available in order to help those families where both partners work full-time. If you aren’t offered one as an option, please do ask if they are available if this is the option you prefer.
During an appointment operatives should be asking if you have any other repairs they can help you with.
If they don’t offer, please do ask them.
So long as they have the time and the tools to do it, they should complete them then and there.
If they can’t complete the extra work at the appointment, they should call in a new repair for you to the NSC and leave you with a new appointment and a job reference before they leave.
Over 10,000 jobs were handed over from the old to the new contract and these are being worked through alongside the new jobs being raised under the FDIS contract. The works are nearly complete in most areas.
Amey and VIVO have contacted all families affected. Where telephone calls and emails have not been responded to, letters have been sent out.
Once a letter has been sent, if there is no response after 3 weeks the job will be closed down so please do respond to VIVO or Amey if you are contacted.
Some jobs may have slipped through the net so if you are waiting for an update on a job or complaint which was raised in the last contract (ie, before 1 April 2022) and haven’t heard anything by the end of June please do call it in to Pinnacle but be aware that some may have to be logged as a new repair.
05 The way Service Family Accommodation is managed has changed
From 1 April, your first point of contact for housing allocations, repairs, maintenance and move-in and out appointments is Pinnacle – contact the National Service Centre via www.pinnacleservicefamilies.co.uk
Repairs, maintenance and statutory checks will be carried out by Vivo for the South East and South West region, and Amey for the North and Central region.
The new contracts have been designed to better reflect your views and to meet your needs. These were captured by Families Federation surveys in 2019. Some of the changes as a result of the responses are:
Estate agent-style information such as floorplans, and internal and external photographs of individual homes will be available. This won’t happen immediately as homes will need to become vacant in order to capture this information but, over time, this will be available for all homes.
Four-hour appointment windows (reduced to one hour on the day), plus evening and weekend appointments, as well as online tracking so that you know when contractors will arrive.
Suppliers, not DIO, will be responsible for funding compensation payments. These changes are designed to minimise supplier-missed appointments.
Suppliers will be required to fix at least 85% of repairs the first time through improved fault diagnosis, carrying more spares in vehicles and ensuring the right trade is allocated to the repair.
As the changes take effect, do let us know how things are going by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and look out for more information on our social media channels over the coming weeks.
AFF was delighted to host a FB Live session on behalf of all three Families Federations where we spoke to Air Commodore James Savage, the Head of DIO Regional Delivery Accommodation. James gave us an update on the changes which will be coming in the new FDIS contract and how these will affect you as families.
The families watching live also had the opportunity to ask James specific questions during the session.
The Future Defence Infrastructure Services (FDIS) accommodation contracts have now been awarded. These contracts, worth £650m, will replace the National Housing Prime (NHP) contract.
The £144m National Accommodation Management Services (NAMS) contract, which includes the operation of a national service centre, designed to be a single point of contact for requests from families living in SFA, has been awarded to Pinnacle Group Ltd.
Four Regional Accommodation Maintenance Services (RAMS) contracts, worth £506m, will provide statutory and mandatory checks, repair and maintenance services and the preparation of allocated properties for Service families. These contracts have been awarded to:
Northern: Amey Community Ltd
Central: Amey Community Ltd
South East: Vivo Defence Ltd
South West: Vivo Defence Ltd
More information will be issued to all families in SFA before the contracts go live.
AFF will continue to monitor issues and feed them back to DIO during the entire process.