Last Friday, Peverel was expelled from the Home Builders’ Federation campaign to reinvigorate the retirement housing market.
Its logo was removed from the campaign’s website, while earlier in the week the homeless charity Shelter also decided to jettison the campaign. AgeUK – which last year removed its logos from the Peverel Retirement site – had declined to get involved.
Meanwhile, Esther Rantzen, who is fronting the campaign and who was also contacted by Carlex, has requested – and received – a full explanation from Carlex of its criticisms of the campaign and the wider retirement housing sector.
The campaign confines itself to easing planning regulations for retirement house builders.
The HBF has expelled Peverel from involvement in the campaign because of the OFT ruling in December last year that its subsidiary Cirrus had run a bogus tendering operation to win business for warden call and electronic door entry systems.
The OFT found that 65 sites had been scammed between 2006-2009.
Even though Carlex had long reported the swindle to the authorities – and the Times had even reported it – the OFT granted Peverel “leniency” on the fiction that it had somehow turned itself in. The property manager got off scot-free, although it has made a £100,000 “goodwill” payment into the contingency funds of the sites affected.
At the time, Sir Peter Bottomley said: “This is a complete scandal. Other investigators passed the problem to the OFT and Cirrus knew they were in trouble.
“It is odd that by far the greatest offender gets off. The systems are rotten if they allow this.”
Stewart Baseley, the executive chairman of the HBF, has explained his decision to expel Peverel from the Campaign for Housing in Later Life in an email to a Carlex reader:
“In light of the OFT’S recent ruling on Peverel’s breaches of competition law, the campaign partners decided to disassociate Peverel from the campaign and the company’s logo will shortly be removed from the website.
“This was the sum total of Peverel’s involvement with the Campaign for Housing in Later Life, but because of seriousness of the OFT ruling – albeit some years ago and while the company was under different management – we reached the decision that it was no longer appropriate for them to have such a link with our campaign.”
It is astonishing that Peverel was even admitted to the campaign, given the OFT ruling of December 6 last year.
Owing to Carlex taking up the issue, Shelter pulled out. Sensibly, AgeUK – which until recently had a retirement leasehold unit – did not get involved.
Yesterday, the Campaign for Housing in Later Life was discussed at a meeting between Carlex and Labour’s shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds, the MP for Wolverhampton North East, hosted by Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse.
Coincidentally, Reynolds had earlier met McCarthy and Stone, the retirement house builder that is principally backing the campaign.
Esther Rantzen has suggested that the retirement house builders and Carlex should meet to establish common ground and work to improve housing for the elderly, which is desperately needed. Carlex enthusiastically agrees.
The Campaign for Housing in Later Life has a narrow agenda to encourage easier planning rules for retirement developers.
It does not address problems in the sector well attested in OFT reports, numerous court records and debates in Parliament, where retirement freeholders and managers have been named.