Regulation of Cavity Wall insulation installers is grossly inadequate

Claire Eades made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Adran yr Amgylchedd, Bwyd a Materion Gwledig

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Yn disgwyl am adolygiad mewnol gan Adran yr Amgylchedd, Bwyd a Materion Gwledig o'u triniaeth o'r cais hwn.

Dear Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,

I am writing in response to Mr Ed Davey's answer to the question raised by John Denham regarding compensation for victims of cavity wall insulation.

Firstly I have evidence of everything I am going to state in writing. Some of this I have shared on Twitter.

There are no effective organisations to protect consumers. The high profile the Govt has given to green measures has left an open door to cowboy installers some of whom are multinational companies.

Companies such as the Mark Group cold call on the most vulnerable in our society and claim that they are calling on behalf of the Govt. They tell consumers that CWI has a Govt backed guarantee called CIGA.

CIGA is an insurance backed by the industry. I have written evidence of its collusion with the Mark Group and due to victims networking of collusion with other companies as well. I would question why they exist at all.
The OFT in its August 2012 report raised the ineffectiveness of CIGA as a point of concern.

You mentioned Trading Standards. Again I have written evidence that Trading Standards can do nothing to protect consumers. The CAB were also ineffective as were environmental health. Ofgem also deny responsibility in a similar way to yourselves. Ofgem were however able to tell us that Eon funded the insulation. All of this is backed by written evidence. Eon brought in Green Deal Resourcing to carry out thermal imaging which confirmed badly installed CWI but still the Mark Group deny.

This is standard practice in the industry.

The 5% sample is grossly inadequate and does not state the time intervals at which it was sampled. Also some reports state that the failure rate is as high as 17% (I have this in writing)

Many vulnerable CWI victims never get to the point where they know an energy company was behind it and are left with their homes ruined. This can lead to respiratory problems and premature death particularly amongst the client group in question. I have already been contacted by a lady who was rushed to hospital whilst on the phone to the Mark Group. Another 84 year old victim said that she had 'not been this sad since her husband died 20 years ago'

Many victims will be older as they were the target under CERT and will not have access to ICT facilities. Two victims have learnt to use a computer specifically for this cause.

The advise from the DECC to 'get a solicitor' is wholly inappropriate and reflects Govt's distance from ordinary people. Yes, I have that in writing too.

The PAS2030 'quality certificate' can be bought online for £75 which is the licence needed for Green Deal approval. The advice also includes examples from the Mark Group as case studies of good practice when their conduct has been appalling evidenced from review centre/Mark Group as well as our own experiences.

Even when the BBA get involved victims tell me that they are not privy to information. There is a wall of silence around this industry.

The following MPs I know are aware of these issues.

Ed DaveyMP
John DenhamMP
Gordon Birtwistle MP
Desmond Swayne MP
Paul FlynnMP

I am not against energy saving in principle but you have put an obligation on energy companies who have endeavoured to subcontract. The regulation however slack is done by the industry itself and is worthless.

It is also an example of false advertising and misselling, all of which I can substantiate with written evidence.

I look forward to hearing from you; an answer which does not reflect a misunderstanding of how the insulation industry operates.

Yours faithfully,

Claire Eades

Helpline, Defra (CCU), Adran yr Amgylchedd, Bwyd a Materion Gwledig

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·       [3]Latest Defra news

·       [4]Flooding and coastal change

·       [5]Travelling with Pets

·       [6]Waste and recycling

·       [7]Reducing bovine tuberculosis (including information about
badger control)

·       [8]Fishing (including Common Fisheries Policy)

·       [9]Animal Welfare in Transport

Regards

Customer Contact Unit

Defra

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

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Gadawodd william kidd anodiad ()

This is similar to practices in operation in the damp proofing industry where TrustMark continue to support contractors who are using products that British Board of Agrement have stated there is no reliable test at present that supports their Certificates but that their opinion is some of the products may work.

Several Trading Standards departments are not interested. Competition and Markets Authority refuse to investigate. TM refuse to answer requests about the matter. A director of TM even tried to persuade BBA to keep the matter quiet in case it affected the commercial interests of his manufacturing members. Letter available on file.

Yet damp is mainly caused by lack of ventilation often caused by careless implementation of government compliance with energy saving.

The energy that will be wasted in dismantling what will become slum properties will far outweigh the savings. Let alone the human misery of severe ill health due to many damp proofing contractors failing to identify the cause of damp and instead installing unnecessary damp proof courses that may not work anyway.

Gadawodd Claire Eades anodiad ()

I totally endorse that there will be a huge problem for the future with poor retrofit insulation measures and total collaboration and a wall of silence between Government and the industry.

I do not work in the industry but now have a very good idea of how it operates. I didn't realise such scams existed in an open democracy. Naive I know. This has been a real eye opener. The targets can be the elderly and vulnerable in our society. Why is this allowed to happen?

Gadawodd william kidd anodiad ()

Complaints to British Board of Agrement and Trustmark have in my experience been ignored - some of these products are installed in compliance with BSI and local building regulations authorities may police these if a complaint is made. But a complaint in a known case won't help the 99 per cent others who remain unaware of the problems.

The reason contractors get away with it is Cavity Wall insulation and Damp proofing products are largely unseen technical compliance works that depend upon the honesty of the installer training and on site checking of compliance. In case of Cavity Wall and other insulation ventilation is ignored or even cut off by these products.

The direct findings I have is that organisations such as Trustmark and British Board of Agrement simply don't want to know - they have complaints procedures but my experience has been they will find and support what they wish to. Letters to Liz Male Chair of TM go willfully ignored even when consumer laws are being blatantly broken with the support of TM directors. Former CEO Alan Slaney threatened defamation after complaining to him.

Dear Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,

I am looking forward to a prompt response to my previous letter

Yours faithfully,

Claire Eades

Helpline, Defra (CCU), Adran yr Amgylchedd, Bwyd a Materion Gwledig

Thank you for your email which has been received by the Department for
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The [1]Defra pages on GOV.UK contain a lot of information about Defra’s
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·       The latest information on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can
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[2]www.gov.uk/cap-reform.

Other popular pages:

·       [3]Latest Defra news

·       [4]Flooding and coastal change

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·       [6]Waste and recycling

·       [7]Reducing bovine tuberculosis (including information about
badger control)

·       [8]Fishing (including Common Fisheries Policy)

·       [9]Animal Welfare in Transport

Regards

Customer Contact Unit

Defra

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

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Dear Helpline, Defra (CCU),

I am very concerned of the lack of regulation of cavity wall insulation installers and questions need to be answered. I have recently received an email from a concerned neighbour who found an 82 year old neighbour scraping her own wallpaper in her black mouldy house thanks to CWI . CIGA don't want to know. I also have evidence of police involvement re money laundering, fraud and misselling.

I would like my question answered

Yours sincerely,

Claire Eades

Helpline, Defra (CCU), Adran yr Amgylchedd, Bwyd a Materion Gwledig

Thank you for your email which has been received by the Department for
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If you need a quick response, please call the Defra Helpline on 03459 33
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Please note that requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
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The [1]Defra pages on GOV.UK contain a lot of information about Defra’s
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·       The latest information on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can
be found on the Countdown to CAP Reform web pages at
[2]www.gov.uk/cap-reform.

Other popular pages:

·       [3]Latest Defra news

·       [4]Flooding and coastal change

·       [5]Travelling with Pets

·       [6]Waste and recycling

·       [7]Reducing bovine tuberculosis (including information about
badger control)

·       [8]Fishing (including Common Fisheries Policy)

·       [9]Animal Welfare in Transport

Regards

Customer Contact Unit

Defra

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

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Helpline, Defra (CCU), Adran yr Amgylchedd, Bwyd a Materion Gwledig

Dear Ms Eades

Ed Davey is the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change so your request was forwarded to DECC as they are responsible for the issues you raise. You can contact DECC via email at [email address]

Yours sincerely

Jennifer Long
Defra Helpline

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Gadawodd Dianna Goodwin anodiad ()

I too have an enquiry pending with DECC, through my MP Desmond Swayne to the Minister of State, The Rt Hon Gregory Barker MP. This is a follow up to his response to me at the end of May from which it was clear that the Minister placed great faith in either my local Trading Standards Office or CIGA being able to help me. This had not been the case since early February 2014, but hopefully he will now be updated on the reality of the situation that I continued to experience till this week. I have pressed for the services of an ombudsman that MUST (optional at present) be signed up to by energy efficiency installers and their product manufacturers. Also that these services be made available to consumers who had work done both pre and post the introduction of the Green Deal. Generally I have pointed out that there needs to be far greater transparency and a tightening of regulations within an industry which is currently holding the consumer to ransom; against which it is extremely difficult if not impossible to seek any redress. Fine words and incentives are being shamelessly used to lure the consumer in, and typically under marketing cover of Governmental Schemes, approvals, and endorsements, backed up by 25 yr CIGA & SWIGA Guarantees ‘to give you peace of mind’. Commonly citing rules of confidentiality and closing ranks, the lack of transparency between the various participating bodies allows them to self govern. This leaves the system open to widespread abuse – where the concerns of the consumer actually come last. Similarly the checks and controls that are meant to be in place and are always reiterated whenever we complain as if they are fool-proof, can do nothing to assure us when they are so clearly and blatantly being ignored on a wide scale.
I join with Clair, inviting anyone reading her request to similarly add their voice and write to the Minister, so that we can together make a difference in changing the status quo and striking an Honest Green Deal for the consumer.

Gadawodd Claire Eades anodiad ()

I have asked the question under the freedom of information act. How many MPs or members of the House of Lords have a financial interest in a company supplying insulation either themselves or through a third party or stands to gain financially through the expansion of the Green Deal or previous schemes such as CERT and CESP? I have asked for this information and yet no direct answer was received.

Gadawodd Dianna Goodwin anodiad ()

I whole heartedly agree with Claire which is why I shall be putting a separate request through to DECC about ombudsman services that links in well and will also therefore incorporate a similar question asking :
Are MPs or members of the House of Lords required to declare their interests financial or otherwise, in companies providing Green Deal energy saving measures?

Dear Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs's handling of my FOI request 'Regulation of Cavity Wall insulation installers is grossly inadequate'.

I have asked for some information about compensation for cavity wall insulation victims under CERT and CESP . I have also asked for information about 'interests' of politicians in the insulation industry.
No answer to either has been received.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

Yours faithfully,

Claire Eades

Helpline, Defra (CCU), Adran yr Amgylchedd, Bwyd a Materion Gwledig

Thank you for your email which has been received by the Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).  This is an automatic
response acknowledging receipt of your email; there is no need to reply.

We have a target of replying to emails within 15 working days, however, we
will reply sooner if we can.  If we feel that the issues raised do not
fall within the Department's responsibilities, we will transfer your email
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directly. 

If you need a quick response, please call the Defra Helpline on 03459 33
55 77, or from outside the UK call +44 (0) 20 7238 6951.

If Defra determines that your request falls under either the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (FOIA) or the Environmental Information Regulations
2004 (EIRs) you will receive a response within 20 workings days after the
date of receipt of your request, subject to this deadline being extended
under certain limited circumstances allowed in the legislation.  If your
request is for your own personal data (i.e. Subject Access Request) under
the Data Protection Act then the deadline is 40 calendar days – although
please note that the deadline will count from the date that Defra receives
the £10 fee (if a fee is required) and/or any further information
reasonably required to locate the information.

The [1]Defra pages on GOV.UK contain a lot of information about Defra’s
work that may be of interest.

·       The latest information on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can
be found here [2]CAP Reform Countdown.

·       Other popular pages:

·       [3]Latest Defra news

·       [4]Reducing bovine tuberculosis (including information about
badger control)

·       [5]Travelling with Pets

·       [6]Flooding and coastal change

·       [7]Waste and recycling

·       [8]Fishing (including Common Fisheries Policy)

·       [9]Animal Welfare in Transport

Regards

Customer Contact Unit

Defra

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

This email and any attachments is intended for the named recipient only.
If you have received it in error you have no authority to use, disclose,
store or copy any of its contents and you should destroy it and inform the
sender.
Whilst this email and associated attachments will have been checked for
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Communications on Defra's computer systems may be monitored and/or
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References

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Gadawodd Dianna Goodwin anodiad ()

Regarding previous annotations, I once again did not receive a satisfactory reply from DECC via my MP and therefore decided to make a request on the subject - here is the link.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...
I may also like Claire raise the additional question of compensation for CWI victims, which will appear on the above link.

Gadawodd Peter Ward anodiad ()

Claire
I recently 'appeared' on Radio 4 You and Yours - in which CWI was discussed in detail. The BBC was swamped with similar examples afterwards. Links are on the website below, although I do not know how long the BBC actually archive programmes. The practises here are very similar to those in the very closely related damp industry. You should write to John Preston at the IHBC (Institute of Historic Building Conservation) - email: John Preston <jpreston@phonecoop.coop> who is in close contact with various bodies, including DECC about CWI. I have provided examples to John, who assisted with the Radio 4 interview and subsequent follow-up.

My summary of the situation regarding the damp industry, AND Green deal related incompetence is that a suitable MP is needed to take this to a Parliamentary Investigation. In conversation with the Clinical Director of the NHS, I was told that the best way to do this is by showing the wider clinical harm to the british public - in other words by helping the Asthma Foundation prove a link between damp houses and clinical problems. Whether this damp is there because of Rising Damp fraud, or CWI fraud is immaterial.

You will find a link to the Radio 4 interview here : http://www.heritage-house.org

Gadawodd Claire Eades anodiad ()

Hello Peter

Thank you, I will certainly follow that up. It is looking likely that two MPs cross party will bring this to Parliamentary debate in the NY. I will follow up as soon as the Christmas period is over. CWIVA (Cavity Wall Insulation Victims Alliance) are determined to make this industry accountable and are pushing for an independent ombudsman to replace CIGA.
In many cases I am sure that the 'Green' movement doesn't fully understand the consequences of what it promotes. The fact that Ofgem does not hold property by property records at address level means that failed installations go unrecorded therefore carbon reduction targets cannot be accurate. This is an issue I am also pressing to have raised in Parliament.

Regards Claire

Gadawodd william kidd anodiad ()

Further support for this cause can be found at Institute of Specialist Surveyors and Engineers (ISSE) who also have support from National Aspergillus Centre of NHS Wythenshawe Hospital.

The drive for home insulation is in my view seriously flawed -

1. not only are contractors cutting off ventilation but under the Housing Act 04, heat recovery ventilation is supported as best practice - but few properties have this system and most householders are totally ignorant of the risks of lack of ventilation -

2. the use of irritant fibres used in loft and wall insulation. when product packaging warns that the insulation material is an 'irritant' product 'handle with care' - why drive householders to installing this in lofts and walls ? Where even very small air movements will lift of irritant particles and thus enter the internal enviroment of a home - affecting those with asthma.

It is interesting to note that the DEFRA report on gypsum concluded that this industry is one of the most polluting in the world. The gypsum manufacturers also own many of the
larger insulation companies.

Is the green deal driven by lobby groups who have convinced government to pressurise householders into using such products ? Possibly knowing that they may have to be removed in due course when these effects are better known and create a further need to replace with more of their product range in the future ?

When I contacted one of the directors of a well known 'irritant' fibre distributor he said the industry was not interested in safer products because it would undermine their businesses and threatened it would lead to loss of employment.

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) (of which ISSE is a full member) is the governments's interface with the construction industry and the CIC have a green panel looking into insulation.

The attention of Graham Watts, CEO of CIC, should be sought in advising him and CIC of this matter. He can then ensure it is conveyed directly to Department of Business who may listen more attentively if support can be enlisted from the CIC.

Anyone wishing to join ISSE can do so for a small membership fee as an interested public member or representative of a group and help ISSE drive forward this serious health hazard to the attention of the Minister for Health. ISSE can then provide a link with CIC for those parties.

ISSE have for years campaigned against damp and insulation fraud and have enlisted the help of Angela Smith MP, Robert Goodwill MP and Minister of Transport, Chi Omwurah MP, Nick Clegg MP, and several other MP's who are now becoming aware of these matters.

The matter of industry interests being supported against consumer interests can be seen in the related damp industry. See my own FOI requests in the appointment of Steve Hodgson, CEO of Property Care Association, as a Director of Trustmark. This conflict of interest and misdiagnosis of damp by some PCA members as highlighted by 'Which ?' magazine in 'Unnecessary Treatments' and the use of ineffective products supposedly tested by BBA (but not in fact actually tested as BBA have said on their web site they have no effective test) is against the core values of the contract with Department of Business and Trustmark and is another matter I have have campaigned against.

.

Gadawodd Claire Eades anodiad ()

I am totally horrified as to what I have uncovered since battling the insulation industry following botched cavity wall installation. I cannot believe that the DECC promotes such measures.

Is it because they do not understand the consequences of what they are doing which includes significant damage to property and livelihoods? Is it because they do not understand the risks to health? Is it because the power and wealth of the insulation industry has significant interests in the heart of Government? This is an foi request that was never answered.
CERT and CESP were introduced without any consistent systems to monitor or even record the installations. How and why was this so poorly thought through?
All of the different factors/bodies need to pull together to make a stand against this industry. It is not ok to keep arguing job creation when the consequences to society are far reaching in terms of health and ruined livelihoods.
This industry does not self regulate any where near well enough.
An independent ombudsman is urgently needed.
Medical experts need to be involved in looking at the consequences of these measures.

I am very interested in the involvement of MPs in looking at these issues.

Claire Eades

Claire Eades

Gadawodd william kidd anodiad ()

Claire - in my view it is the power of lobby groups who have vast financial resources of one of the world's most polluting industries (gypsum) backing them. Politicians see a short cut to treaty compliance in meeting emission goals with targeting homes so support the principles of insulation without being aware of the risks.

These lobby groups are promoting the interests of a group of companies who cynically know that some of the products are irritants but that encouraging their use leads to more sales and like car servicing at longer intervals between oil changes in the motor industry they are promoting in built obsolescence in order to support the next generation of sales.

Like the director of the well known distributor of insulation I spoke to - jobs and profits come first.

Meanwhile many people die of asthma 1250 deaths pa in UK and develop aspergillosis as a result of mould exacerbated by poor ventilation and several million may not die but they do suffer debilitating asthma and other respiratory diseases.

The Construction industry council should ensure via their CEO Graham Watts that these matters are investigated.

I attended the CIC AGM in 2013 and could scarcely believe the lack of awareness promoted by the green deal - not one mention of ventilation - until Peter Bonfield of BRE mentioned this in his keynote speech - but only after meeting ISSE attendees.

Gadawodd Claire Eades anodiad ()

Hello William

I am learning very quickly about this industry and will certainly be following up our findings with people named within this thread. I think the health aspect is of grave concern and the DECC turning a blind eye to people with ruined homes following measures that they promote leaves me uneasy. Amber Rudd MP has stated in writing to an MP

'As you may be aware, CIGA is an independent body and we would recommend your constituent contacts CIGA directly to set out her vision and become directly involved in making those improvements, so that many can benefit from an organisation that will be clearly up to resolving issues relating to cavity wall insulation'

This is passing the buck to an individual to make changes to an industry run scheme with assets of more than £16million.
For me it's a bitter pill to swallow and it requires Govt intervention.
Thank you for your input. What you write is very informative.

Claire Eades

Gadawodd william kidd anodiad ()

Claire and any related or group members who wish to send a dossier of their facts and case studies please post it or E mail it to the Green Panel, c/o CIC - see CIC web site for address.

Please also send a copy to Peter Hansford, Chief Construction Advisor, c/o Dept of Business see web site for address or E mail details.

Files sent to Peter Hansford can, later on, become the subjects of FOI requests to see what has been done if anything after allowing time for due process.

Any files should be copied in to your local MP marked attention of Minister of Health who will then forward it to that minister - or - any other relevant minister who is then under an obligation to respond to your MP within 20 days in detail.

After allowing time for response and due process the MP can then support a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman who must investigate the matter for lack of action if none has occurred where for example the law or contracts have been broken such as that between Trustmark and Department of Business for example which I shall be doing asap in the matter of conflicted interests with scheme operators.

See Parliamentary Ombudsman web site - for example he was successful in bringing the Equitable life matter to a conclusion so he has teeth.

After the usual pre-complaint procedures of 8 weeks following complaint to the relevant department or body a file can also be sent to the Housing Ombudsman for certain rented accommodation - see his web site.

Any Trading Standards matters can be reported to the CEO of the local authority employing the relevant officers and after 8 weeks of inaction or unsuccessful or inappropriate action complaint can be sent to the Local Authority Ombudsman.

Its time consuming - but not as time consuming as using courts which also cost a huge amount of money and need direct contractual relations and probably could not help anyway - and is free of charge and represents probably the only recourse available.

Complaint can also be raised with your Euro MP who can elevate the complaint to the European Parliament and Commission where all consumer protection regulations across Europe are supposed to be upheld.