Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Housebuilder Ignoring Safety

Persimmon, the housebuilder that paid its chief executive a £75m bonus in 2018, has been accused of shoddily building homes that left its customers exposed to an “intolerable risk” in the event of fire.
An independent review of the company published on Tuesday found Persimmon had a “systemic nationwide failure” to install fire-stopping cavity barriers. The review following a deluge of customer complaints, said the failure to meet minimum building standards was “a manifestation of poor culture” at the firm.
The report by Stephanie Barwise, QC of law firm Atkin Chambers, who also represents victims of the Grenfell fire disaster, urged the firm’s directors to “reconsider Persimmon’s purpose and ambition”.
“Persimmon has a nationwide problem of missing and/or incorrectly installed cavity barriers in its timber-frame properties”, the review said
The failure to install cavity barriers in timber-frame buildings poses a significant fire risk, and has been reported as a key reason for the rapid spread of fire in a block of flats in Worcester Park, south London.
The review found a “culture of non-observance” to safety checks, and said staff treated them as a “mere box-ticking exercise ... stemming from a belief that any single stage is not important, as another check or inspection will follow later”.

“There is a need for a fundamental change in Persimmon’s culture to ensure that quality of build and customer service are central to its approach to business and its corporate identity,” the report said.
The report concluded Persimmon “has traditionally been more a land assembler and seller of houses rather than a housebuilder”, and said the company’s former leaders were motivated by bonuses that “were widely perceived as excessive”.
Persimmon’s latest annual profit topped £1bn, the biggest ever made by a UK housebuilder, and a large chunk of that was related to the taxpayer-funded help-to-buy scheme.

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