One of the country’s leading housing repair companies is at centre of fraud, bribery and corruption allegations that have led to higher bills for local authority leasehold owners.
The accusation have been levelled at the Mears Group by Alan Strong, a former regional manager, at an employment tribunal, and have been reported in the Independent.
Strong claims executives were secretly overpaid by corrupt individuals working for their clients, which include a number of councils and housing associations across southern England.
The whistleblower says he was victimised after raising concerns and is suing the company for constructive dismissal.
Mr Strong claims he was first alerted to the alleged malpractice when he discovered Morrison Facilities Services, which the Mears Group took over in 2012, “overclaiming and overcharging” on its contract with Southwark Borough Council in south London.
The plight of Southwark leasehold owners, including Farieda Chandoo who faces a personal bill of £100,000, havce been reported on LKP.
“MFS regularly made commercial claim for payment for work they had either not carried out … or not completed the work … or not actually done any work at all,” he said in a witness statement.
“The overclaiming came in many guises …. These same actions of overclaiming were occurring on many other contracts and clients. I would estimate that the overclaiming covered at least 100,000 to 160,000 properties.”
MFS clients mentioned in Strong’s witness statement include the London councils of Southwark, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Havering and Hackney, and major housing associations including Gateway, One Housing Group and Paragon Community Housing Group.
The Mears Group denies Strong’s allegations and described hims as “a disgruntled former employee” and this is a case “where mud flinging is designed to pressurise businesses into settling spurious claims”.
Morrison Facilities Services?
Didn’t Nigel Howell, Chief Financial Officer,Peverel Group join from Morrison Facilities Services?
If the allegations are accurate, Nigel Howell would have had to have been in a senior role at MFS during the period mentioned.
They also workerd for Tower Hamlets. I have said this many times the scale of the abuses of the likes of Peveral pales in comparison to those in local authorities and hosuing associations. There is common attitude, we are landlords, its our property
AM, you are right. I’m a relative newcomer to this field, but from what I’m seeing, this is a viper’s nest…. Housing Associations on behalf of their tenants receive taxpayers’ funds, that are ill accounted for. Meanwhile their RTB leaseholders are getting a raw deal. Huge multi-million pound contracts are decided without s20 consultation and without proper competitive tendering. Since the leaseholders are a tiny minority of HA tenants, their rights to service charge information and accounts are being ignored with impunity.
Government supervision of the financial affairs of these entities has been removed. We now have to rely on their own internal “audits” for which the overriding benchmark is “value for money”, a pretty subjective measure! We’re seeing totally unnecessary works carried out simply in order to line the pockets of contractors. Moreover, the hybrid status of most HA’s (ie Charity/non-charity?, for Profit/not for profit? allows them to raise funds in the private sector, (with their much needed “affordable” housing stock as security), while exempting them from normal publicly available company and accounting reporting at Companies House. This lack of accountability is a loophole that needs urgent attention..
Well in fact the common mistake is that S20 is carried out in the term contracts that are awarded (often Eu wide tendered) and owners fail to exercise rights at that stage. This procedure then allows them to consult on far narrower basis when cost are to be incurred. I have some sympathy in that it tends to be feast or famine when it comes to funding, but on the whole they do a rotten job of fair and reasonable costs from procurement to work.
This abuse by mears is commonly done on all there contracts with social housing providers all over the uk .Claiming for work not done ,over inflating prices ,day work claimed & ADJUSTING KPI,S to make them look good that they are performing when they are not .I am no longer working for mears as i have been transfered into a local northern council and glad to see the back of them with there lies and decietfullness . I knew this would happen sooner or later ,Good luck to ALAN STRONG for exposing them KD