Service Family Accommodation Allocation Panel goes virtual!

17 February 2021
An image of a man, woman and child moving boxes from a removals van.

Moving home can be a stressful and busy time, particularly for Service families who, on average, move once every three years. Amey’s Occupancy Services team supports families as they move into their Service Family Accommodation (SFA) to ensure the process is as smooth as possible. 

One of their main responsibilities is to manage the SFA application process which is usually quite straightforward however, when our teams are required to support a Unit or multiple Unit moves, where a large number of families are relocating at the same time, a collaborative approach is needed  

Allocation panel meetings are critical to ensuring a successful and effective Unit move for the families involved. It is not unusual for hundreds of families to be embarking on a relocation journey, and it’s vital that expectations are managed, requirements are met, and information is made available. Pre-pandemic, these panels were attended in person by key stakeholders, some of whom travelled many miles to attend. However, the Government guidance around social distancing and travel restrictions meant that a new way of hosting allocation panels needed to be found and after a few months the new virtual allocation panel was introduced. 

Jane Reid, Amey’s Head of Occupancy Services & Customer Solutions, explains more 

“The allocation panel is critical to ensuring families are supported during their move and consists of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) Occupancy Management Team who advise on policy and Amey’s operations teams who raise any issues with allocated properties and provide information on the local area such as schools and transport options. Also in attendance is a Military Housing Liaison Officer (MHLO) from the area the Unit will be moving to and representatives from Regional Command who oversee all Unit moves across the UK. Finally, Unit Welfare are there to identify families who need extra support and to highlight SFA requests that are no longer required.” 

Due to the sensitive nature of the information, a secure platform was needed, which provided Service families with confidence that their details would be safe. It was agreed that the existing MOD system, known as would be used and once the necessary security checks were carried out, our teams were provided with access to the system. 

Jane added “Moving to an online facility was daunting at first, but the benefits soon outweighed any doubts we initially had. Our meetings are more structured and as a result are shorter than before. Not having to travel has also meant that meetings can start earlier and we can extend them if we need to. So far we’ve carried out five virtual allocation panels and are preparing to support over 500 families as they move during summer 2021.” 

The team are now looking to introduce this new way of working to support other rebasing activities across the housing contract.