How our heroes are being left to freeze in squalor: Members of Armed Forces and their families are issued sleeping bags and sleep in their coats as they are left in mould-ridden military homes without heating for WEEKS
- Troops and their families are freezing without heating or hot water
- Pinnacle was given a £144million contract to maintain service family homes
- Parents stressed children developed viral infections while sleeping in their coats
- Maintenance boss stays nice and cosy in £2m mansion
Hundreds of troops and their families are freezing without heating or hot water this weekend as they desperately wait for repairs in rundown military homes.
Sleeping bags have been handed out to soldiers, their partners and children as they shiver in Army homes, many of which have had no heat or hot water for weeks.
Private contractor Pinnacle faces mounting questions over the scandal after it was given a £144million contract in March to maintain Britain’s 49,000 service family homes.
The company, whose boss earns £320,000 a year, responded to the crisis by setting up an emergency helpline – with an automated message that advised desperate callers to heat their pipes with hot water bottles or warm flannels.
Hundreds of troops and their families are freezing without heating or hot water this weekend as they desperately wait for repairs in rundown military homes
Pinnacle faces mounting questions over the scandal after it was given a £144million contract in March to maintain Britain’s 49,000 service family homes but homes are still suffering from mould and damp
But families said they spent hours desperately trying to call for help as harrowing stories emerged of young children developing viral infections and sleeping in their coats in subzero temperatures.
Last night Defence Secretary Ben Wallace vowed to intervene to deal with the crisis. He tweeted: ‘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.’ A senior defence source called the crisis a disgrace, while the Ministry of Defence admitted that it was unacceptable and sent letters of apology to every family in military accommodation.
With the cold snap biting, soldiers were allowed to sign out extra sleeping bags for are no appointments for days.’
DESPAIR: Captain Will Matthews, of Frimley Park Cadet Training Centre, Surrey
RUINED: A mouldy ceremonial jacket kept in Capt Matthews’s home. Inset left: His baby’s cot in a bedroom without heating
families said they spent hours desperately trying to call for help as harrowing stories emerged of young children developing viral infections and sleeping in their coats in subzero temperatures
BUT maintenance boss is nice and cosy in his £2m mansion
By CAMERON CHARTERS and NATASHA LIVINGSTONE FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
HOME COMFORT: Pinnacle CEO Peregrine Lloyd, below, and left, his stately pile in Oxfordshire
In contrast to the squalid conditions endured by military families, Pinnacle boss Peregrine Lloyd lives in a £2million stately home in a quaint country village in Oxfordshire.
The Grade II-listed house was built in 1710 and is spread across four storeys with immaculate landscaped lawns.
Mr Lloyd, a former City fund manager, is paid £320,000 a year to run Pinnacle, which won an MoD contract to look after military homes.
Answering the door yesterday, Mr Lloyd apologised for his firm’s failings after hundreds of soldiers and their families were left shivering without heating or hot water.
He said: ‘There are massive delays in our call centre.
We have gone from 15 people to 65 people in the last six weeks just to try and deal with the volume.
‘Fingers crossed we are hoping this problem will go away. It is awful the conditions people have to live in.
‘I cannot say that the quality of the service has been brilliant because it hasn’t been.’
Pinnacle boss Peregrine Lloyd lives in a £2million stately home in a quaint country village in Oxfordshire
He claimed that he had ‘personally’ paid for the electricity bills of families who contacted him directly.
When asked whether he would put up any of the affected families in his large home, he said that he had ‘no capacity’ to house families.
‘I can’t do it for 49,000 people, but I do really care. This house? You wait until all my family turn up at Christmas. There isn’t any capacity.
‘I had thought about that but I have got to work within the rules of the contract,’ he said.
Mr Lloyd graduated from Exeter University with a degree in Economics and Politics.
He started working as a fund manager in the City but left to start a property services business in the early 1980s.
In the late 1990s he began managing houses for several councils across Britain, and Pinnacle continues to look after social housing in several areas of the country.
The company also works within the private rented sector.
Pinnacle’s contract was supposed to end decades of sub-standard conditions. Last month it was reported that nearly a third of UK military homes needed repairs.
Sources said families with ‘total loss of heating’ (with a temporary solution provided) were eligible for a £1 voucher per 24 hours.
The Ministry of Defence said: ‘It is unacceptable some personnel and their families are not receiving the level of accommodation services they deserve.
Across the 46,197 homes managed in the contract, some are experiencing issues due to the sharp drop in temperatures.
‘We are working quickly with our contractors to resolve heating and water problems, on top of spending tens of millions to upgrade thousands of homes in the last year.’
Pinnacle said: ‘Our role is to take calls from families, raise the job and make an appointment with the family where possible.
‘These are then transferred to the relevant MoD maintenance provider.
The recent period of prolonged cold weather has resulted in a significant increase in calls, and wait times have lengthened.
‘We apologise to families for the inconvenience this is causing. We are bringing in more staff to help drive down wait times.’
Families at military accommodation in Colchester, while naval training base HMS Collingwood, in Hampshire, closed early for Christmas after having no heating or hot water for a week.
Meanwhile recruits at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire were given ‘Arctic sleeping bags’ after central heating broke, with no hope of repair before they graduate next week.
The crisis comes as military personnel are being asked to cover for striking workers, including ambulance and border staff.
On Friday Felicity Mercer, wife of Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Johnny Mercer, appealed for families to contact her for help. At least 70 emailed in 24 hours.
She said. ‘People are sending me screenshots where some have been on hold to Pinnacle for up to seven hours.
They are desperate.’ Army Captain Will Matthews, who served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, posted a video of his baby sleeping in his service home riddled with damp and mould.
He tweeted: ‘Tired of living like this… I’ve been reporting it since July to get it fixed in time for winter. Yet here we are.’
Another young family in southern England said that they’d had no heating since last Monday.
The mother, whose children are seven and two, said her youngest had developed croup and needed an inhaler every four hours. ‘It’s heartbreaking,’ she said. ‘My children are struggling.
They’ve been up all night coughing.’ She said they spent days trying to contact Pinnacle then, on Friday, after being on hold for hours, they were promised a heater would be sent by 5pm and an official would look at their heating on Monday.
A senior military source said hundreds were affected, adding: ‘It’s the contractor and lack of investment over years. It’s a f****** disgrace we continue to spend so much money on defence and treat people like this.
I haven’t seen it as bad as this before, with babies getting ill.’
Families with young children at Sandhurst military academy in Berkshire were struggling with broken boilers last week, including one mother with a disabled young son who said she could not get a repair appointment for four days.
One woman said: ‘We’re at breaking point. Calls go unanswered and even if they are, you’re told there
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