March 24, 2017

After SEVEN months, the ARHM breaks its silence over the Peverel / Cirrus scandal to say … ‘no comment’

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… and yes, of course, Cirrus was a co-sponsor to its annual meeting two weeks ago

ARHMconferenceThe Association of Retirement Housing Managers has finally made a statement about the Peverel / Cirrus price-fixing racket.

But it amounts to making no comment at all.

The ARHM chairman Paul Silk, who is employed by the Hanover housing association, says the association is considering the issue and is aiming “to put right any breach of the code as opposed to operating solely as a disciplinary committee”.

These deliberations may result in a “disciplinary outcome” – or may not result in anything of the sort – and, therefore, the ARHM has no statement to make on the subject at the present time, or perhaps ever.

The full text of Mr Silk’s statement to Carlex is below.

Mr Silk declined to comment on why Cirrus was a co-sponsor of the ARHM annual conference in June – only six months after the OFT made its ruling over collusive tendering at 65 retirement sites managed by Peverel.

Peverel is the largest single funder of the trade organisation, perhaps to the extent of 40 per cent of the ARHM’s subscriptions.

Mr Silk was asked for details on this matter, but declined to clarify.

Pensioners who have questioned the ARHM over the matter have been stalled or received no reply at all.

One has raised the issue more than 12 times since January.

“They are a useless and unhelpful organisation and do not deserve any sympathy or respect,” he says.

“Publishing their handling of this would will give everyone the opportunity to see what they are like, especially those elderly leaseholders who still believe that ARHM would come to the rescue if they had a grievance.”

The ARHM’s new code of conduct is currently seeking approval from the Secretary of State at the DCLG, Eric Pickles.

Carlex asked Mr Silk and the ARHM board:

“Why should he give it in the face of the ARHM’s inaction over this scandal?

“Can you please inform us why residents in retirement housing should feel any reassurance that their managers are members of the ARHM?”

Carlex readers who feel that their interests are not served by the ARHM could write to Mr Pickles explaining why: eric.pickles@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Mr Silk’s statement to Carlex says that the ARHM “unlike other organisations, has not dismissed the complaint as not being against one of its members”.

This is a reference to the stance taken by ARMA to the OFT finding collusive tendering.

In January ARMA CEO Michelle Banks claimed that because neither Peverel Retirement nor Cirrus were members of ARMA – while, of course, Peverel itself is a member – “our Independent Regulator has no locus to investigate or take any action against Cirrus”. More here

This was widely regarded – in Westminster and among the reform-minded among ARMA members – as a pathetic evasion.

Peverel is one of ARMA’s biggest members, although its predominance is not overwhelming as in the ARHM.

None of the professional bodies involved in leasehold has made a public statement about an OFT investigation which revealed price-fixing to the detriment of the elderly and vulnerable by the country’s largest property manager. Nor did the Leasehold Advisory Service.

It has been left to voluntary organisations such as ours, politicians and the media to comment on these practices.

Full statement from Paul Silk, ARHM:

Dear Sebastian,

Thank you for your e-mail and we are grateful for the opportunity to reply to the points you raise.

We understand that your contact may feel frustrated at an apparent lack of progress in his complaint and, if this is the case, we apologise for this.

It may help if we provide some background to the ARHM which is a small organisation established with the aim of improving standards in the Retirement Leasehold Sector.

Our membership is drawn from the organisations that manage retirement leasehold estates, so we are a trade body to that extent. However, the ARHM’s focus has, and continues to be, to promote best practice in the management of retirement leasehold and we work with our members to support them in this objective. We believe that our unique focus is in how we expect members to work with residents beyond that laid down by legislation to ensure that leaseholders are informed and consulted about how their homes are managed and that there is transparency between our members and the residents of the properties that they manage. Our code of practice focuses very much on this relationship.

As explained, we are a small organisation due to the nature of our specialism in retirement leasehold. Our Board is drawn from our member organisations who give of their own time to support the work of the association and are not recompensed in any way. Due to the voluntary nature of the Board, we do not meet as frequently as larger trade bodies/organisations may do. We currently have one member of staff to support the work of the association and, as such, we do not have the resources available to larger organisations such as the OFT or ARMA as mentioned in your e-mail and any investigation of this nature will take longer due to the limited resources that we have. Nevertheless, we have given a commitment to fully investigate this complaint and we will continue to do so.

You have raised a number of questions in your correspondence which we will attempt to answer.

It was appropriate to wait until the outcome of the OFT enquiry into price fixing so as not to prejudge an outcome or in some way prejudice this outcome. We note that the OFT findings were against Cirrus and not Peverel Retirement (albeit they are both part of the Peverel Group). Despite this, the ARHM, unlike other organisations, has not dismissed the complaint as not being against one of its members given that any detriment as a result of this would have been suffered by residents of one of our members. We have not attempted to wash our hands of this or bury it under the carpet as has been suggested.

The purpose of our Code of Practice sets out a set of objectives in how members should engage with and consult residents together with a set of standards which enhance and build on the legislative requirements. Its purpose is to give more rights to residents than merely those set out by law. Members are expected to abide by the code. However, the code’s importance as a statutory code of practice means that it applies across the board to all managers of retirement leasehold whether members or not. As a result of this, tribunals and courts will have due regard to the code when passing judgement on the actions of any manager of retirement leasehold property even if this does not relate to a member organisation. We believe that this is a very important distinction of our code and one that we would hope you would be happy to support. A major part of the ARHMs work is to support members achieve the expectations of the code and that is why membership of the ARHM should be seen as a positive approach by an organisation as it signals not only an agreement to the principles of the code but an openness to work towards achieving best practice.

One aspect of the operation of the code for members is the right of residents to make complaint to the ARHM and have that complaint considered by the Audit and Regulation Committee. The purpose of the committee is to work with that organisation to put right any breach of the code as opposed to operating solely as a disciplinary committee. We believe that this approach is one which best serves the interests of residents and this is how we are currently working with Peverel regarding this complaint. It would therefore be inappropriate, at this stage, to make comment on any possible disciplinary outcome and whilst we continue to work with Peverel to achieve a satisfactory outcome for any affected residents.

We acknowledge that whilst Peverel Retirement is one of the largest contributors to the ARHM through its membership subscription, this does not affect how we deal with any complaints made on behalf of residents of Peverel managed properties.

Best regards,
Paul Silk
Chair to the Association of Retirement Housing Managers

Comments

  1. The reply indicating that the OFT complaint was against Cirrus Communications and not Peverel Retirement, albeit they are both from the Peverel Group?

    I had been informed on the 15/03/2011 by Keith Edgar, Managing Director of Peverel Retirement, that the following 4 Holding Companies, had been placed in administration on 14/03/2011?

    These 4 companies:-
    Peverel Limited
    Peverel Group Limited
    Aztec Acquisitions Limited
    Aztec Opco Developments Limited ( together the companies)

    These companies are part of the wider Peverel Group???

    The Operating Companies include:-

    Peverel Retirement Division
    Peverel Property Management Group
    Peverel Building Technologies

    Confused??

    Peverel Retirement are a Brand Name for Peverel Management Services Ltd, who along with Cirrus Communications were responsible for the Price Fixing of 65 Developments from 2004/05 to 2009/10 in a Cartel set up by Peverel Management Services Ltd?

    Cirrus Communications are a sister company of CarelineUK who is a subsidiary of Peverel Building Technologies Ltd
    ?
    More confused??

    On the 10/05/2011 we were advised by Keith Edgar, that Peverel Management Services Ltd our Managing Agent had been in the same VAT Group as the Landlord, (no mention who was the Landlord? this could be one of two companies) ???

    I have been informed by Peverel Head of Customer Relations Services Chris Owens, that Peverel Management Services are our Landlord and Managing Agent, as they have a 125 year Headlease??

    As a result of the administration we at ABC are no longer exempt from paying VAT as the Landlord and the Managing Agent are no longer part of the same group?

    We were then informed in May 2012, again by Keith Edgar that we were purchased by Chamonix and Electra?

    On checking with Chris Owens, he confirmed that we were not part of the sale to Chamonix and Electra but still owned by Meridian Retirement Housing Services Ltd, owned by Peverel Services Ltd??

    No wonder we are confused and left in the dark, as to who owns what, I believe this is part of the Peverel Group Plan that adds to the lack of Openness and Transparency that is supposed to part of the Peverel Commitment led by Janet Entwistle CEO???

  2. A Reviewer says:

    This article explains exactly what ARMA and the AHRM are.

    It might be long overdue but it is now established fact. And it has taken many years effort to get this unhappy state of affairs confirmed.

    They are NOT regulatory authorities in any way at all. To evict peverel would in effect be to commit suicide as their funding would collapse.

    The solicitor’s professional association [The Law Society] for many years claimed to be able to regulate the profession. It failed to do so. In the modern era, The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulates solicitors in England and Wales. The independence of the Police Complaints Authority is often questioned.

    The ability of the RICS – Royal Society of Chartered Surveyors – to effectively discipline its members who are closely associated with firms like peverel is now in question. Excessive valuations of property are common place and impinging on the world’s banking regimes. It is a huge problem.

    But who can and will sort it out ? Parliament is the answer, and slowly they are getting there.

    Not fast enough for many of us.

  3. Michael Epstein says:

    Perhaps it is time that reputable members of ARHM and ARMA had a close look at how they operate and to question if membership of both bodies actually serves to add credibility to those firms.
    It might be appropriate if Peverel were to be their sole members.

  4. Michael. Hollands says:

    If one reads the letter from Paul Silk the problem is quite clear.
    ARHM is a trade organisation, not one which operates a disciplinary procedure.
    It has around 50 member companies and just one permanent employee. How could one person deal with complaints from around 100,000 properties.
    The object of the organisation is to promote good practice which is detailed in their code of conduct.
    There is no mention of any penalty for non conforming. Also the ARHM organisation itself is answerable to no-one.
    There is no way the member companies would vote to discipline or fine another member ( except in an internal dispute as has happened recently ). Even less likely that they would expel a member who manages over half of all properties and provides around 40% of the organisations income.
    Are we really to believe that the other member companies are working with Peverel on possible future compensation payments to their victims.
    The Government are considering approval of the ARHM code but what is the purpose of this if no-one has the inclination to enforce it.

  5. Michael Epstein says:

    Perhaps the single permanent worker at ARHM would like to explain the dissolution notice published in the Gazette on 22/10/13 with a subsequent compuldory strike off notice cancelled on 5/11/13?
    What sort of trade body can it be if it is incabable of completing and publishing their accounts in a correct manner?

  6. I cannot get my comments posted. Is there a problem with the website?