Concerns over flood assurance standard

Trade body concerns over flood assurance standard

53117G81A NATIONAL trade body has raised concerns householders could be misled over the capability
of flood protection products being fitted to their properties.

People whose homes and businesses were flooded between 1 December and 31 March can apply for a government grant of up to £5,000 through their local authority under the Repair and Renew scheme.

But The Property Care Association says that homeowners looking for assurance in the purchase of flood protection systems could be misled under a new initiative introduced by the British Standards Institution (BSI).

Steve Hodgson, chief executive of the PCA, said: “The BSI’s new flood protection products standard is failing to provide the necessary assurance to homeowners looking to purchase measures for their properties.

“The standard has been written in such a way that it can be interpreted to mean that the installation of a flood protection product can then make the whole property protected with the Kite Mark standard.

“But in truth the scheme can only assure homeowners that a product tested and approved under the Kite Mark scheme has been fitted properly. The scheme cannot reassure homeowners that their homes are protected from flooding.

“As a result, we believe the scheme and the promotional material supplied by BSI is misdirecting consumers who are using government money to buy flood protection that may not work.

“In short, the standard seems to promise flood security but it doesn’t. It is very narrow in its remit and allows for the recognition of firms who have demonstrated competence in filing products that have previously been awarded a manufacturing Kite Mark but nothing else.”

The PCA says its approach to BSI to address the situation has so far drawn a blank.

Mr Hodgson added: “We have made BSI aware of these issues, including the safety risks associated with families thinking they are safe from flooding when they are not, yet nothing has been done to remove the potential for confusion.

“The devastation that is experienced by victims of flooding can only be truly understood by those who are affected.

“Understandably consumers struggle to know what works best and who to trust when looking for products and arranging for flood protection works to be done.

“For the sake of consumer confidence, we call on BSI to clarify the situation.”

The PCA says concerns about the presentation of the BSI scheme are shared by specialist flood protection contractors, consultants and flood risk assessors as well as the National Flood Forum – the independent consumer organisation.

The PCA has also discussed the issue with officials from both the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency and has also written to Minister for Floods, Rory Stewart MP.

Mary Dhonau, Chair of the PCA’s Flood Protection Group, who was awarded an OBE for her flood campaigning work, says “Being at risk of flooding has the potential to be extremely dangerous and having been flooded myself I know only too well that it is a life changing experience.

“It is traumatic both at the time of the event and often for many years afterwards.

“Goods and services that mislead people into thinking that they are safe make things much worse. I am deeply concerned about this development and urge BSI to withdraw this scheme until such a time when it has fully consulted with and listened to all those concerned within the industry and a realistic and safe solution agreed upon.”

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National Flood Forum:  “The Property Care Association is right to be concerned…”  Read more here.