Dear Department of Energy and Climate Change,
I have stated in another request ‘Obligatory Ombudsman services for cavity wall insulation (CWI)’ that CIGA needs to be independently controlled and not funded by the industry it serves.
CIGA cannot be said to be operating independently, as they claim. Furthermore, CWI installers continue to mislead the public into believing that CIGA is backed up by and supported by the government. In actuality the dice is loaded heavily against the consumer who complains to them, however real their problems may be. CIGA's company check reveals listings for CIGA Limited, Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, and finally The Solid Wall Insulation Guarantee Agency - all of which show currently held Directorships (& Secretary appointments).
The Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency shows some 11 current appointments, easily outstripping the 6 staff actually employed there to operate the Agency UK wide! Similarly SWIGA (abbr.) has 10 current appointments, and CIGA Limited 3 current appointments. The same Directors names pop up all over the place again and again; resigning there; rejoining here; appearing anew under a different company. And what these current Directorships have in common with the growing list of resignations displayed, is that many of these people are Directors concurrently with InstaGroup and all of its divisions, Mark Group, Knauf, various other CWI firms, the NIA, and the BBA. Jeremy John Fairfax Robson has some 11 appointments within the Insta network alone, as well as Directorships with CIGA Limited, Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, and the BBA. Under resignations for example, Michael George Cottingham was a Director of Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency while also Director for Mark Group. It is an appalling catalogue of conflicting interests that positively militates against consumers getting a fair deal.
The Robsons as a family (co-incidence or all related?) appear to have spread their wings far. JJF - but also PF and DF Robson are Directors for InstaGroup. A Michael Anthony Robson is Chairman of Knauf and David Fairfax Robson Director of SWIGA. A Mr Jerry Robson is a BBA Non-Executive Director. Another BBA Director is Digby Harper and given how incestuous everything is looking in this industry I can be forgiven for wondering if he is related to Dawn Harper, Office Manager at CIGA.
With assets in excess of 16 million pounds, CIGA certainly does have the resources to meet claims under their Guarantee - yet have a strong track record for blatantly ignoring and intransigently resisting claimants. The government set the parameters for this industry and the abuse of the system is just allowed to roll on year after year, unchecked, It is nothing short of a national scandal that this private and patently non-independent company is allowed to function at all, and high time the government stepped in to disband them. Proper and solid arrangements should be made for their Guarantees to be underwritten; also for an obligatory ombudsman service made available for all. What action will the government take please?
Dear Department of Energy and Climate Change,
While I await your response, I have added the following annotation to 'CIGA offers clients an independent guarantee for insulation work carried out on their home', being highly pertinent to my own request:
As Claire Eades has stated – she has ready evidence that CIGA is simply used by the insulation industry claiming it to be a government backed agency, which many people then assume to be fully supported by government. DECC has now been advised via many different sources in recent months that CIGA cannot remotely be said to be run independently as claimed – which it must be if consumers interests are to be properly protected under their 25 Year guarantee. Instead this so called consumer assurance is deviously used and abused by the CWI industry to sell its products and services. Effectively the government has to date aided and abetted this. When CIGA’s directors are typically also directors of the BBA, NIA and various insulation companies, the resultant conflict of interests will always mean that the consumer loses out. If the police force nationally is recorded as being very concerned indeed about wide scale abuse of the Green Deal, then surely the government must acknowledge that something radical needs to change under the current system. The government endorsed CIGA’s guarantee scheme – therefore what action will this government now take to bring in tighter industry regulations, replace CIGA, and provide obligatory ombudsman services for both pre and post Green Deal insulation work?
I look forward to reading DECC's responses to Claire Eades questions.
An additional query as to CIGA's role etc, has been presented on my behalf to Amber Rudd, Minister of State, by the Rt Hon. Desmond Swayne MP. With the winter upon us and victims of CWI insulation constantly coming forward - and all very much telling the same dismal stories surrounding the insulation industry - answers are required and action needed urgently.
Dear Department of Energy and Climate Change,
Your reply is still awaited – as indeed is your overdue response to another request I made regarding ombudsman services - where I shall now ask for an internal review. For the sake of clarity I have spoken with the Financial Conduct Authority, who as anticipated then referred me back to Trading Standards concerning any regulation of CIGA. This company limited by guarantee (CLG) is not independent, nor answerable to the FCA, and only in theory to Trading Standards. TS operate on an intelligence led approach whereby complaints by consumers about CIGA will not be individually investigated (they claim not to have the resources available), nor is contact back to the consumer considered to be a routine course of action. This is most unsatisfactory for the consumer who can only lodge a complaint with their local Citizen's Advice Bureau, who in turn passes complaints onto the local Trading Standards, and they then pass this to the Home Authority Trading Standards for CIGA. Victims of cavity wall insulation are usually at their wits end just trying to find a solution to their problems. Since reporting either the installer or CIGA to TS via CAB does not offer any solution at all, except perhaps advice to seek redress through the Small Courts, then it is not hard to realise that complaints against CIGA unsurprisingly rarely get relayed to TS. The average consumer would consider it a waste of their time, with there being no obvious benefit to hand. Furthermore if such complaints are not recorded, then CIGA are unlikely to be investigated. Personally I wonder just how much intelligence TS would decide to gather before taking any action against CIGA. Also what on earth could that action be: perhaps a strong recommendation to the government that CIGA should have been tightly regulated from the date of its inception and now needs to be wound up with its assets transferred to a regulated organisation.
Why in any event must we wait upon TS, when the evidence is plentiful that in line with the CWI industry CIGA treats consumers contemptuously when problems arise. CIGA is controlled by its members and some if not all of their Directors will be acting as Trustees of the company's assets, specifically held to meet CIGA's 25yr guarantees. It is a basic principle that Trustees should not be subject to any conflict of interests between their own personal interests and those of their Trusteeship. Yet, as I have previously demonstrated this is not at all the case within CIGA. Decisions are being taken that may very well be benefiting its members to the detriment of consumers trying to claim under their guarantee. Transparency for Trustees should be paramount, but given CIGA's behaviour I question whether they are instead lining their own pockets with salaries, expenses, and benefits in kind. Conclusions such as these are inevitable when CIGA's role within the industry does not seem to be fit for the purpose, inadequately meeting the needs of guarantee holders.
I am one of the three founder members of CWIVA (Cavity Wall Insulation Victims Alliance). A fellow member has confirmed that there are currently hundreds of CWI complaints being logged by the EST, with that data then being sent on to DECC. These figures cover just the problems that EST get to hear about from customers, with the number of actual complainants who only approach the installer and/or CIGA being far higher. From my own experience I am making the obvious assumption that the EST are in any event only reporting those complaints linked to the Green Deal because they most certainly do not want to know about pre Green Deal problems. Whether the true figure be in the hundreds, or perhaps the thousands, it is hardly representative of a ‘low incidence of problems’ as constantly touted by CIGA both in writing and on the radio. The weather this winter is predicted to be an unusually wet one, meaning that DECC needs to take action sooner rather than later – yet your responses are still not forthcoming. CWIVA are receiving cases on a weekly basis whereby both installer and CIGA have blatantly ignored complaints, leaving householders in the most distressing of circumstances. Would you please therefore now address my requests with some sense of urgency.
Dear Department of Energy and Climate Change,
The response I finally received was sent through the post from Amber Rudd to my MP Desmond Swayne, dated 1 December 2014. I found the contents highly disappointing to say the least.
The letter acknowledged I was right that not all properties are suitable for CWI but sold the line that a pre-installation survey, installer certification and CIGA Guarantee, were all safeguards that the public could rely upon. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nobody within the industry has acknowledged my own installation as being defective, despite four separate inspections. I sit here this evening typing and hardly able to breath because insulation fibres have given me a sore throat that refuses to go after seven solid days of noisy and messy insulation extraction. The written report of what the extraction team found aside from some wet insulation, was that:
'The extraction of the cavity wall insulation to the above property started and as bricks were removed as part of the extraction process we found large voids of cavity wall insulation and dense areas around the injection holes. This shows that the insulation was pumped under high pressure.
Areas to the south west corner had not been filled at all.
Debris was found to be breaching the cavity above windows and at D.P.C level as well as some broken bricks within the cavity. This should have been picked up prior to the installation of the cavity wall insulation.
The location should have also been highlighted as a property not suitable for cavity wall insulation.'
In short a defective installation which should never have proceeded in the first place, precisely as I have been arguing. Yet CIGA finally settled with me after a long battle as a 'goodwill gesture' in line with all of their settlements. No one ever admits liability, least of all CIGA.
I have used my own case here to once again demonstrate gross deficiencies within the industry and to restate that there needs to be far tighter regulatory control. The health issue alone should not be under estimated. Defective installations cause much damage to the properties concerned and considerable stress and ill health to those householders who then become engaged in a seemingly futile battle with installers and CIGA in order to seek any redress. The damp and mould that often ensues has been recorded as increasing the number of asthmatic cases, particularly within social housing residences, whilest the insulation fibres themselves are a known irritant - as I can now unhappily personally testify.
The extraction business is booming and many installers are accordingly moving into this business instead. Yet the extraction business is even less regulated than that for installers. The result is often botched cases of extraction whereby the insulation has to be extracted for a second time and at more expense.
As a founding member of CWIVA - Cavity Wall Insulation Victims Alliance - I can tell you that we have had many people come forward to us who have been experiencing massive problems trying to deal with CIGA. The names of certain people in this short staffed office come up time and time again whereby we find that complainants are variously ignored, spoken rudely to, and made to feel intimidated. I would be happy to supply these names to you. I am aware that CIGA is an independant body but that does not mean that DECC should not take action having allowed the industry to effectively govern itself. Shared directorships mean that CIGA does not ACT independently.
I was asked in Amber Rudd's letter if I found the information to be useful. No, I did not at all, but sincerely hope that the information I have provided here DOES prove useful; this time meriting the proper response it deserves. Meanwhile a parliamentary debate has been set for the 3rd February next in which the very real problems surrounding CWI will be highlighted. That allows sufficient time I believe for Amber Rudd to return a more considered response than has hitherto been the case.
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