Huge increase proposed to fund aimed at rectifying wrongs of Caerau insulation installation saga
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
An increase to a huge fund aimed at rectifying the wrongs of a poorly executed insulation installation scheme has been proposed.
Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) will meet next week to discuss a business case with the Welsh Government including how it intends to facilitate more than £2.65 million to carry out essential remedial wall insulation work on homes near Maesteg.
Hundreds of homes in Caerau were left damaged after being poorly fitted with insulation under three separate schemes ten years ago.
Of all the homes affected during the saga, many were left facing problems with severe damp and mould, with some families even encountering health issues as a result.
On top of the £2.65 million that has been awarded by the Welsh Government, BCBC Cabinet members will be asked to approve recommendations that the authority contributes an additional £850,000 – bringing the total to £3.5 million.
To secure the Welsh Government funding it has been awarded, the Council must submit its business case by 28 February.
If approved, the overall funding will be used to address the failed wall insulation works at all 104 properties.
The cabinet will meet to discuss the report at 2.30pm on Tuesday 8 February 2022.
The recently published findings of a damning report into the Arbed Scheme highlighted multiple failings, including the discovery that public money may have been paid to a firm that didn’t exist.
The internal audit report also highlighted potential breaches of the council’s Members Code of Conduct.Funding was awarded by BCBC to Green Renewable Wales Ltd (GRW) to carry out insulation installation work at 25 properties in Caerau in 2013.
The report also highlighted that “no due diligence checks were evidenced” for the GRW – whose director, Phil White, was also a BCBC Labour Councillor at the time – and the companies they sub-contracted.
A statement issued by BCBC after the findings came to light stated that “While the council used the Arbed scheme in 2012-2013 to administrate funding and appoint a contractor to provide wall insulation for 25 properties in Caerau, it was not involved with a further 79 properties which had work carried out under the Community Energy Saving Programme.
It added: “In addition to internal audit investigations, the council referred the matter to South Wales Police and liaised closely with Audit Wales so that it could be thoroughly and transparently investigated.
“While critical of both the management of the initiative at that time and the involvement of the elected member, the report recognised that key personnel from that era are no longer available, and examined and reviewed the management, procurement and monitoring of other externally funded schemes, many of which were also energy efficiency initiatives.
“The report concluded that events surrounding the Arbed scheme in 2012-2013 were an isolated ‘one-off’ and made a number of recommendations for tightening procedures to avoid the situation from being able to reoccur.
“As all of these recommendations have already been implemented and actioned, Audit Wales confirmed to the council that the situation did not require their intervention, while South Wales Police confirmed that no further action was required.
“The issue of the elected member was reported to the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales as the body responsible for investigating and dealing with any elected member code of conduct issues.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.