Amey and DIO continue to support Service family moves throughout the pandemic

23 October 2020
image of a family removing boxes from a removal van.

The summer months are always a busy time for Amey’s housing teams and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) as they work with Service families who are preparing to relocate to new duty stations within the UK. However, due to COVID-19 and the ever-changing situation, our teams were faced with challenges that last year would have been unheard of.  

In March, the UK experienced its first full lockdown and Service families were urged to repatriate back to the UK from Kenya, Oman, Europe and Australia as quickly as possible. Our teams were given just 72 hours’ notice to identify over 130 suitable properties in the UK and bring them up to Move In standard.  

Teams on the ground reacted quickly and DIO, Amey and its supply chain partners worked around the clock to deliver furniture and essential white goods ready for each family’s arrival – all within a tight 48 hour deadline. Our Customer Service teams in Liverpool were mobilised to work from home and switched to a fully digital service. They were provided with a second laptop so they could continue to support our customers throughout the crisis and continued to meet all customer support targets. 

In March the MOD suspended all non-essential assignments and by the end of March, almost 3,500 Move In, Pre-Move Out and Move Out appointments were removed from the system. A number of allocated properties were also withdrawn due to Government restrictions on people moving home, meaning that some families were asked to remain in their current location.  

When the Government announced that house moves could resume, our teams worked at pace to clear the backlog. Amey and DIO worked closely with Front Line Commands, Welfare Officers and contractors to identify priority moves and weekly meetings were scheduled so that careful planning could begin again. Just over 641 Service families were successfully rehomed. 

Alongside this activity, teams have been working with key MOD stakeholders as part of the national effort to manage COVID-19. Part of this is to implement Government policy regarding social distancing and the restriction of all non-essential movement. This has included the delay of all re-basing moves planned for Summer 2020 until later in the year or into Summer 2021, under a programme known as Op Faran. 

Our teams are already well underway planning the first phase of Op Faran and have successfully relocated 83 families under Early Movers Statues (EMS), with remaining families due to move within the next three months. Our allocations team have also begun to plan future moves well into 2021. 

Lt Col Tommo Tomkinson RE, SO1 Workforce Demand, CM Ops said  

In the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic and during a peak period of lockdown, a number of stringent measures were put into place to reduce movement over a 3-month timeframe. The Army established a weekly working group with the key Service movement and accommodation contractors, DIO, Agility and Amey, to plan, execute and monitor a graduated return to routine assignments for when authority was given for families to start moving again.  For this to be successful each contractual element had a key role to play in ensuring that Service personnel and their families would be able to transition seamlessly. 

Amey’s participation through their Occupation Services team was crucial.  New booking processes and forms were introduced to allow an easier system and reduced lead times for those in the early moves to amend their bookings with little or no impact as well as collaborating with contracted removals providers to allow a smooth Move In and Move Out.  In those areas requiring larger quantities of Service Family Accommodation (SFA) over key movement windows, Housing Representatives were surged in for house preparation.”