Dear Minister Brownlee

Yesterday CanCERN wrote to Minister Brownlee in response to his appearance on Campbell Live earlier this week. 

 

Hon. Gerry Brownlee
Minister of Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
22 May 2013

Dear Minister Brownlee

Firstly we would like to thank you for conducting the Campbell Live interview on Monday 20 May regarding the resident’s plight with the Earthquake Commission. Acknowledging their voice is the first step towards resolving issues.

You mentioned in your interview that you had heard the issues but not the solutions. We found this statement disappointing because CanCERN has on numerous occasions tried to engage you in solution focused discussions regarding EQC. We would once again invite that opportunity and have reiterated the areas which have consistently been of most concern and the solutions that have come directly from the residents most impacted by EQC’s delivery of service.

Prioritising the vulnerable the issue

Many elderly, sick and vulnerable people are still waiting to be identified and prioritised. EQC has recently developed a process to prioritise the vulnerable but it relies largely on community groups discovering and referring those they find in the community. EQC does action these referrals but it leaves too many gaps the most vulnerable are the hardest to find and we are slowly uncovering 95 year olds and 101 year olds who have waited for over two years for EQC to make contact. While utilising the knowledge of the community can be seen as a positive move, people will be missed and EQCs preoccupation with capacity has overruled the priority to find every possible vulnerable person. EQC’s needs have been put over and above the needs of the vulnerable. This is unacceptable and shows a lack of commitment to actually wanting to identify the most vulnerable.

The solution

EQC management were given advice via the EQC Customer Advocacy Group to promote the programme widely via the media and to use the MSD database which they have access to to proactively and directly contact all people to offer them information about the programme. EQC refused to take this advice saying capacity was an issue and they were cautious of opening it up and being taken advantage of.

Case Management – the issue (click the link to continue)

Access to personal information and accurate and timely communication has been the plague of an overwhelming number of residents. Ian Simpson, Bruce Emson and other senior managers have publicly stated that they need to do better and yet from a resident’s perspective, little has improved in this area.

Residents with the most complex situations can not get clarity on their position. This is extremely distressing as was witnessed on the Campbell Live programme and the added stress of having to repeat your story every time you manage to make contact with EQC is unacceptable and breaking the spirit of strong Cantabrians.

The solution

Based on EQC’s claims that a large number of claims have now been resolved, case management of those in the most complex repairs is now a valid option and priority should be given to meeting the communication needs of these people. Case management could be managed on a pod style basis organised into areas of complexity cross lease, Port Hills, TC3 foundation repairs, TC3 others, most vulnerable land damage homes (increased risk of flood, increased risk of liquefaction), rockcote properties (who have been classified as leaky homes). If EQC does not have the systems in place to flag people into these categories, they have once again failed to implement a system to identify the most vulnerable and worst affected and it would highlight the need for questions to be asked regarding how they have estimated all claims will be resolved within certain timeframes.

Discrepancies in assessments EQC and the private insurer the issue

Discrepancies in assessment costs between insurers and EQC are not the result of apportionment as you stated in the Campbell Live interview. They are largely the result of inadequate assessments, EQC’s interpretation of the Act, repair methodologies which breach or subvert the Building Act and subversion of the Building Consents process.

Presently the monitoring, auditing and quality control processes of both EQC and Fletcher EQR are internal processes (other than Treasury and Auditor General reviews which focus more on financial accountability processes). Residents have little faith in the validity of these processes. Contractors and professionals have indicated they also have concerns which have been raised to no avail.

The solution

Adequate external monitoring and auditing processes need to be established immediately. Scale is a given. Speed is important. These things can not be at the expense of quality and resident assurance that their home is still a valuable asset. Only independent monitoring and auditing of the assessment and repair processes will give this assurance.

Management of EQC the issue

Ian Simpson by his own admission has failed to address the longstanding issues which plague the community. The huge number of email responses to the Campbell Live interview which outline negative experiences are a vote of no confidence for the management of EQC.

Time and time again we have been told by managers at EQC that communicating with the people is a priority and that they were looking at ways to improve this. This began with Reid Stiven early in 2011, was reiterated by Bruce Emson on many occasions in 2012 ( as far as we are aware one of his roles in EQC was to develop a better communications process) and repeated again by Ian Simpson when we met him in the later half of 2012 and was further echoed by the board chair Michael Wintringham when we visited him in Wellington in December of last year. From the residents perspective the actions of EQC to fulfill this role are actions that meet the needs of EQC and do not meet the needs of the people. We have yet to have the ‘how’ articulated.

CanCERN met with EQC Board Chair, Michael Wintringham late 2012 and were told to wait and see what positive measures would be put in place to address our stated concerns. As of yet, we can identify no real improvements and believe the EQC Board has also failed to acknowledge and address the massive systemic failings of EQC. Letter to Michael Wintringham 11.10.12

The solution

Many have suggested how things could be resolved to no avail. Two and a half years is too long for residents to wait for this service to improve. There has been no articulated plan to address the greatest concerns that is acceptable to the residents. Therefore we reassert our formal request that Ian Simpson is not best qualified to be the Chief Executive of EQC and should be replaced immediately. In the spirit of solution focused outcomes, we would once again offer the opportunity to speak with you directly about these issues with the purpose of resolving the issues in a mutually beneficial way.

Yours sincerely
Leanne Curtis
CanCERN Relationships Manager
on behalf of the CanCERN Board and network
leanne@cancern.org.nz
DDI 03 3100325
CELL 027 6555665
A network of representatives mandated by community organisations to advocate for full engagement in the earthquake recovery.

CC:
John Campbell – Campbell Live
Jendy Harper – Campbell Live
Ian Simpson – EQC Chief Executive
Michael Wintringham – EQC Board Chair
Lyn Provost – Office of the Auditor General
Dame Beverley Wakem DNZM CBE – Parliamentary Ombudsmen
David Rutherford – Human Rights Commission

.

Southern Response – FAQ on builder selection.

Southern Response have published a brief FAQ on how they nominate a builder for your rebuild or repair, and what your options are.

In fact your options are quite limited, almost but not quite “take it or go away”. The FAQ is here, and reproduced below (click the link to see it).

 

Published 18 April 2013

Southern Response has identified a range of reputable Canterbury builders who are accredited by Arrow, our project management company.  This includes group home builders, independent builders and repair specialists.

If you elect to build with us, we will nominate a builder for you based on the type of house you had previously or are repairing. 

Your build contract will be between you, the builder and Southern Response.   Arrow will coordinate aspects of the rebuild or repair for you.  They will liaise directly with you and your builder as required – whether you are repairing or rebuilding with either Build to Budget or Replicate to Policy.

Frequently asked questions about our builder selection

What if I am not happy with the builder you select?      

If you don’t want the first builder we nominate for you, and can present acceptable reasons for that, we will try to offer you a second builder. However, we recommend that you accept our first selection, as we make every effort to match the builder to your project and to ensure that the builder is able to work to the specified time-frame.   

Moving to a second choice of builder may mean that our planned start date for your rebuild or repair is delayed, due to the chosen builder’s capacity and workload.

What if I don’t agree with the second builder you nominate?

If this occurs, you may want to consider our self-managed build option which gives you full control over the project.  You can use a builder of your own choice if you elect a self-managed build option (for rebuild or repair).  If you choose this option, we will require a signed building contract to confirm the work will occur.  We also need to be comfortable with the scope of the work if your house is a repair.  Southern Response will have no responsibility for the outcome of the building work.

How do I pursue the self-managed build option?

When we have agreed how much Southern Response will contribute to the build of your new home you can start talking to builders about your project.  

You should then give us a contract from your preferred builder so that we can confirm that you are doing the building work in compliance with the AMI policy conditions.  We will enter into a settlement agreement with you and pay the amount that reflects the value of your claim with us (either for the rebuild or repair value of the damage to your house).

Any costs already incurred by us toward your original plans to build with us must be reimbursed by you, or deducted from your cash settlement.

More rebuild information sheets from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has released a set of Canterbury rebuild information sheets on it’s website (here).

The topics covered are:

  • TC1, TC2, & TC3 foundations [PDF 672 KB, 6 pages] – info sheet published January 2013
  • Questions and Answers: Technical categories – Version 2 [PDF 430 KB, 8 pages] – info sheet published February 2013
  • Information sheet: TC3 foundation options – February 2013 [PDF 506 KB, 2 pages] – info sheet published February 2013
  • Information sheet: Using lighter cladding for your rebuild or repair in TC3 – February 2013 [PDF 578 KB, 2 pages] – info sheet published February 2013
  • Information sheet: Repairing, rebuilding and re-levelling foundations damaged by the Canterbury earthquakes – [PDF 460 KB, 4 pages] – info sheet published March 2013

.