On this occasion, he did address the issue of Cirrus sponsoring last month’s ARHM annual conference.
His full correspondence is below, and includes the justification that the events took place five years ago – Carlex, MPs and media have all expressed their frustration that the OFT took an absurd amount of time to expose Peverel’s conduct.
“Although we do not seek to play down in any way the wrongdoing which took place up until 2009, we do not feel that this should preclude a company from ever offering its services again.”
Mr Silk also addresses the issue of Peverel’s contributions to the ARHM, but in an ambiguous fashion:
“…it would be incorrect to say that the ARHM derives more than 50% of its income from Peverel. We receive our income from a variety of sources such as subscriptions from other members, conferences and training and publications.”
Carlex’s point is that the subscriptions of the Peverel contributions to this trade body are unbalanced … in relation to the subscriptions of the other members.
Comparing Peverel’s funding to all the other income sources is not the point – especially when there is a wide perception that the ARHM is merely Peverel’s stooge.
Regarding the Cirrus scandal, Mr Silk says: “…we are currently working with Peverel to try and secure an outcome to this matter which is fair and reasonable for residents. As such, it wouldn’t be appropriate to try and conjecture what the outcome of this might be were this not to be the case so as not to affect the dialogue we are currently in.”
Carlex responds to this by asking what is the time-scale for the resolution of this issue?
The cheating took place between 2006-2009, and was reported to the police and other authorities.
The OFT accepted the fiction that Peverel reported the collusive tendering in December 2009 – shortly after the scam had been reported in the Times.
The OFT did absolutely NOTHING for 18 months. Then it made inquiries helped by three Carlex whistleblowers who had originally reported the scam.
Last July, the OFT outlined the investigation and made public the appalling decision to grant Peverel leniency from court action. This appalled the three whistleblowers, who the OFT had ordered not to discuss the investigation on threat of prosecution.
Following the direct intervention of the prime minister, Carlex, Ed Davey (the Energy Secretary and LibDem MP for Kingston and Surbiton) and Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative MP for Worthing West) met the OFT director in September 2013.
This was a full and frank meeting, with the two MPs making clear their appalled response to the OFT’s feeble and tardy investigation.
As a result, three days before the Cirrus investigation was published on December 6 last year, a separate inquiry into leasehold management was announced by the OFT.
This is being carried out by the CMA, the OFT’s successor.
Officialdom has badly let down the elderly and vulnerable who were the victims of sustained and systematic cheating by retirement housing’s largest manager.
Given the appalling delays in responding to this – leaving aside the fact that in the end the response was pathetic – it is absolutely not acceptable for Mr Silk and the ARHM board to say that the Cirrus scandal was long in the past and the sector must move on.
It is reasonable that the ARHM gives a time-scale for when it will, or will not, do anything at all regarding this scandal involving its biggest paymaster.
According to the ARHM’s own code:
“The ARHM endeavours to respond to all enquires and keep within published response time.”
How much more time does the ARHM require to deal with this matter?
Second ARHM response
Apologies if you receive this twice but I had an error message when sending initially. I would be grateful if you could acknowledge receipt?
Thank you for your further e-mail. Apologies if you do not feel that we have answered all your queries as we have tried to be as open with you as we can bearing in mind that this matter is still ongoing. Although we note that your organisation is also small, we had hoped that this would help you understand the level of resources we have available to attend to such matters, important as they are, whilst maintaining a level of service to our other members who have nothing to do with this issue.
As we have made clear, we are currently working with Peverel to try and secure an outcome to this matter which is fair and reasonable for residents. As such, it wouldn’t be appropriate to try and conjecture what the outcome of this might be were this not to be the case so as not to affect the dialogue we are currently in.
Clearly there is a wider interest in this and we shall make clear the outcome of these discussions once they have concluded. It would, therefore be incorrect to say we have no statement to make as we have made clear the current stage of our enquiry to you and we will make clear the outcomes once our discussions are at an end.
Again we would point out that we have agreed to look at this matter in the interests of residents of Peverel developments rather than simply refusing as the party found guilty was, in fact, Cirrus who are not members of the ARHM.
To answer your other points, firstly, it would be incorrect to say that the ARHM derives more than 50% of its income from Peverel. We receive our income from a variety of sources such as subscriptions from other members, conferences and training and publications.
Secondly, you have questioned whether it was appropriate for Cirrus to sponsor the recent conference. Although we appreciate that there may be some concern regarding Cirrus, they are one of a very few companies which provide equipment which is used in retirement housing developments, the concerns over price fixing relate to activities which took place some 5 years ago and their ownership has changed hands since this time. Although we do not seek to play down in any way the wrongdoing which took place up until 2009, we do not feel that this should preclude a company from ever offering its services again.
On behalf of ARHM Board of Directors