On 15th April 2016 the Property Care Association sent the following open letter to Rory Stewart MP with regard to concerns over the award of the BSI Kitemark to a scheme that accredits the installation of flood protection products.
Open letter sent 15th April 2016:
Rory Stewart MP
House of Commons
15th April 2016
Dear Mr Stewart,
Open Letter Re: BSI Kitemark for Installation of Flood Protection Products
The devastation that is experienced by victims of flooding can only be truly understood by those who are affected. What the rest of us must understand is that the fear of being flooded again can become a debilitating constant worry.
It is to the Government’s credit that they have funded a grants scheme to assist the victims of flooding. The ‘Repair and renew’ scheme is assisting in the process of making properties better able to resist future flooding events, bringing resilience to communities and protection to individuals.
Understandably consumers struggle to know what works best and whom to trust when looking for products and arranging for flood protection works to be done.
It is truly shocking then that the British Standards Institute (BSI), a trusted pillar of UK customer assurance, is currently falling short of its stated aim to ‘make excellence a habit’.
Our concerns centre on the award of the BSI Kitemark to a scheme that accredits the installation of flood protection products. This disquiet is shared by the majority of specialist flood protection contractors as well as consultants, flood risk assessors and the National Flood Forum. The scheme operated by BSI is very narrow in its remit. It allows for the recognition of firms who have demonstrated competence in fitting products that have previously been awarded a manufacturing Kitemark.
Unfortunately, BSI’s publicity, together with promotional material distributed by firms signed up to the scheme, gives the impression that the building will be surveyed, serviced and protected to a standard that will be backed with a BSI Kitemark. In truth the scheme can only assure homeowners that a Kitemark product has been fitted appropriately and will be effective in a specific situation. BSI cannot provide assurance that a property has been the subject of a flood risk assessment, nor comprehensively surveyed, nor that every likely source of water entry has been identified.
We have evidence (letters attached) that consumers are being misled into thinking that they are buying Kitemark certified products and services when they are not, and that the scheme is being used to misdirect consumers, including those who are using government grant money to procure flood protection.
After meeting with BSI we believe that they are fully aware of the risks to the reputation of the scheme and of their complicity in the misrepresentation of the scheme. To date, and despite numerous contacts, they have yet to take any visible corrective action.
It is our strongly held view that this delay and inaction on the part of BSI could seriously undermine confidence in the government’s policy of promoting the use of property level flood protection. It will also damage the reputation of the UK’s small but incredibly important fledgling flood protection industry. Our overarching concern, however, is that their attitude and lack of action is putting vulnerable homeowners at real risk.
We would respectfully request that you look into this matter and bring pressure to bear to ensure that the ‘Kitemark – Installation of Flood Protection Products’ is not being misused or misrepresented by BSI, nor by the small number of contractors who have signed up to the scheme.
Yours sincerely,[original signed]
Property Care Association