Persimmon retention deal – is it a good deal?

“I know that Persimmon has today, for example, announced the fact that they are going to be the first major housebuilder to bring in a retention idea, so some money will be retained by the buyer’s solicitors to deal with issues if there is anything that comes forward in the future. We’re putting enormous pressure on the housing industry to generally improve standards, particularly with regard to fire safety, and we’ll be reviewing building regulations later in the year to make sure that we get it right.”
Kit Malthouse, Housing Minister
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-47573969

NO, NO, NO says Owl!! It’s a fixed percentage of the purchase price!

IT WILL SIMPLY BE BUILT IN TO THE PURCHASE PRICE!

You are classed as “employed” if you work ONE HOUR A WEEK!

No wonder employment figures look good!

“BBC Reality Check asked the Office for National Statistics (ONS) whether working just one hour a week was all that was needed to be officially classified as employed?

The ONS confirmed that was the case.

Every three months, a large survey (known as the Labour Force Survey) is sent to approximately 90,000 people, selected at random. The ONS extrapolates the findings to produce employment bulletins.

Those selected to take part in the LFS are interviewed every three months for fifteen months before they drop out of the sample. Interviews are initially done face-to-face and follow-up ones are done by phone. The one exception is the north of Scotland where all interviews are done over the phone because of the distance involved.

A person will need to have worked at least one hour in the week before the interview with the ONS takes place to be classified as employed. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46264291

Outgoing audit chief tells government some home truths

“I still get angry – and that is the word for it, angry – 10 years into the role, when I see badly-thought-through programmes and wasted public money,” says outgoing watchdog chief Sir Amyas Morse. “And the reason I’m angry is because the citizen ends up picking up the tab. They are the ones who end up suffering.”

For almost a decade, as comptroller and auditor general – the head of the National Audit Office – it’s been Morse’s statutory duty to keep an eagle eye on the spending of central government departments, holding ministers and civil servants to account for cost overruns, project mismanagement and profligacy with taxpayers’ money.

He doesn’t have far to look. As he prepares to leave his post in May, Morse’s final public speech at the Institute for Government last week included a damning list of failures: Crossrail costing £2.8bn more than forecast; changes to probation costing £467m to put right; the smart meters fiasco that will cost at least £500m more than originally estimated; and the Ministry of Defence’s latest unaffordable and unsustainable 10-year equipment plan going over budget by at least £7bn. And that’s just a selection from the past few months.

Morse looks back in anger at the billions that could have been spent on vital services, wasted instead through what he calls “inappropriate bravado” on the part of government ministers, lording it over cowed civil servants, behind an increasing amount of secrecy and spin. “We don’t need people jumping out of an aeroplane in the dark with a parachute of taxpayers’ money,” he says.

A proud Scot – his only meeting with Theresa May was a “brief conversation” at a No 10 Burns Night last year – Morse cares passionately about public services. While his upbringing has contributed to his concern for fairness, it’s his decade at the watchdog, to which he came from a senior position in consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers via the MoD, that has fuelled his rage over the wasteful ways of too many government ministers. “I really realised that society belongs to us. We’re all paying for it.”

Public money is finite, he points out. There is no magic money tree. When money is lost in one place, it’s taken away from another programme, usually one that’s easier to cut. Every wasted £1bn, he says, is enough to run NHS England for three days, fund 625m A&E attendances, 135m day cases in hospital, or 4m ambulance attendances.

Morse has warned the government that it needs to invest more in the NHS and social care, to meet the needs of an ageing population. In 2016-17, the UK spent just over £170bn on health and social care – more than 10% of GDP, but less than the 11.2% of GDP Germany spent in 2015 on health alone. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/20/amyas-morse-head-national-audit-office-ministers-waste-taxpayers-billions

Persimmon: at least 1,000 south-west homes built without required fire barriers

New homes built by Persimmon missing fire safety barriers.

Homes built by one of the UK’s largest developers were constructed without essential barriers to slow the spread of fire.

Regulations dictate the flame-resistant material must be installed in roof spaces and wall cavities.

Housebuilder Persimmon Homes found it was missing from some properties on estates in south-west England.

It has written to more than 1,000 people to say their homes need to be checked.

One resident in Truro, Cornwall, said his house “is potentially a massive fire risk”.

The homeowner, who did not want to be named, said recent inspections of his five-year-old house revealed “a vast amount” of fire were barriers missing.
“I’m extremely concerned because I have a family, including two children, living in this house,” he said.

Some of the homes affected are on a Persimmon-built estate in Exeter where a fire last year “rapidly escalated” as it spread between properties.

Speaking about the blaze, Cornwall councillor Dulcie Tudor said it had spread “through to the roofs of the adjoining houses”.

Homes without cavity barriers “act like a chimney” in the event of a fire, she said, and called for work on all Persimmon Homes developments to be halted until the faults have been rectified.

Fire safety consultant Alan Cox said blazes “could easily travel from one compartment or property to another” if there were missing barriers “at roof level”.

A spokesperson said the firm had “identified this as an issue in its south west region” and had “carried out a full check of more than 1,100 timber frame properties and checks are ongoing”.

“However, while investigations are live we are not in a position to advise of the results”.

Persimmon includes Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Dorset within the south-west region.

The company did not confirm whether there were any issues in other parts of the country.
Cornwall Council said its enforcement powers were limited because it had not inspected the homes when they were built.

Repeated breaches of building regulations can result in the developer being taken to court by a local authority.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-47613496