P & R’ Installation Co Ltd (P & R) £27 million pound contract managed by East Kent Housing for central heating, emergency 24/7 gas and hot water repair contract for over 17,000 council homes, is not running properly and should we believe be placed under investigation for possible overcharging.
P & R’s contract with four local councils began at 5pm on Friday 31 March 2017. The contract is to provide central heating, emergency 24/7 gas and hot water repairs to over 17,000 council homes across Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet, otherwise known as East Kent Housing (EKH). EKH manage the contract for and on behalf of the four councils.
In 17/18 P & R replaced 991 boilers and so far in 18/19 they have replaced just 142, according to an FoI response from EKH
Why is this when they should have a programme in place to replace around 1,000 boilers a year. We are half way through the year and P & R have not done anywhere near half the 1000 which should be done by the end of the 18/19, could P & R or EKH explain.
So why are the numbers for boiler replacements so much lower this year(18/19)? And are the four councils aware of how many boilers in 18/19 have been installed? Well they ought to ask EKH. We say this because replacement boilers, are being installed only when they break and/or they are uneconomical to repair as we said earlier. Is this due to the problems with the contract. Is it EKH Senior Management Team or the Councils who have stopped P & R from doing any new installations on boilers, except those boilers which go kaput. Has the replacement programme been put on hold because P & R have been overcharging? If so all Councils ought to be informed sooner rather than later, as P & R, not EKH may owe each Council a lot of money.
The total spend on boilers (April 1 2017 – Sept 2018) which have been replaced so far, is approx £1.9 million. This gives an average of around £2000 per install but it doesn’t cost £2000 to replace a boiler with a similar boiler. If one takes a look on Screwfix or similar outfit, the retail price of a 18-24kw combi boiler ranges between £750 and £1000. It is much less than £2000, so even after allowing for labour EKH should not be paying £2000 for fitting a boiler as a direct replacement with no other work. The Shepwayvox Team estimate that after allowing for labour, a complete install should be between £1100 – £1600. The £2000 average is likely as the result of a possible overcharge by P & R for work which may or may not have been done. The Shepwayvox Team therefore question if EKH have been checking/monitoring the contract/work.
Have EKH informed all four councils there may have been some instances of overcharging. Or are EKH reluctant to share this information with the Councils, as it may well indicate EKH are NOT managing the the £27 million contract very well for and on behalf of each Council. At what point does overcharging become fraud? How many instances of overcharging does it take to turn from a contractor taking advantage of a contract to fraud, if one installation is overcharged that could be a mistake on the part of P & R, but when there are up to 991 instances, is that error or fraud?
The senior management team of East Kent Housing are Deborah Upton – Chief Exec (pictured left) Mark Anderson – Director of Property Services (centre) and Matt Gough – Director of Customer Service (right)
Now Deborah has experience of overcharging in contracts when she was a senior executive at Circle Housing. Mr Anderson (centre) previously worked as the Interim Executive Director of Assets & Regeneration at the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO). He was directly involved with the issues around the cladding on Grenfell Tower (page17).
Since the beginning of the £27 million pound contract P & R has with EKH and the respective council billed just over £4.2 million pounds. Each Council has spent the following according to their payment to suppliers data:
Canterbury City Council
Dover District Council
Folkestone & Hythe District Council
Thanet District Council
In all a total of £4,273,957 has been paid to P & R since the beginning of the contract, according to each councils published data to date; which started on at 5pm on the 31st March 2017. This equates to 16% of the £27 million budget for the contract. The question is how much of this £4.2 million might be overcharging by P & R. Well, we’ll just have to wait until the investigation which is under way, is concluded and the results shared with the four Councils: Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet in the future.
This is NOT the first time overcharging issues have been raised about contracts managed by EKH. In June of this year, in a blog post, we informed you that EKH had issues with potential overcharging regarding the M & R contract.
If you want to inform the responsible elected officer for Housing there may well be issues with the P & R boiler contract you can contact them on:
Finally, we note in Septemeber 2018 it was announced that the founder and deputy chairman “Phil Copolo” (pictured) of Bilby PLC which owns P & R Installations Co Limited decided to retire from the business, selling his shares and resigning from the board. Phil Copolo and son Leigh Copolo have now sold their 31.26% holding in the group for £12.6m to several new institutional shareholders.
The Shepwayvox Team – Dissent is NOT a Crime
If you are an EKH tenant or leaseholder and are having issues regarding central heating, emergency 24/7 gas, hot water repair or any other issue, please do contact us. All matters will be dealt with in the strictest of confidence.