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Accreditation schemes view deal as competition

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 19-Apr-08 05:19:23 PM

In last week's newsletter from the Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors (IDEA), Steve Roberts, an active Steering Group member rumoured to soon become Director, announced an "exclusive accreditation" deal with ECMK which now threatens to weaken the Institute's access to other accreditation schemes.

In the announcement, Steve Roberts writes: 

"With many members approaching the time for renewal of their accreditation we thought that we should put forward an alternative option that would be attractive to our members. Consequently, we are pleased to announce that we have now reached agreement with ECMK Ltd.for an exclusive accreditation offer to IDEA members." (sic)

He goes on to explain how, because of the "downward pressure" on EPC fees, and the need for Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs) to "mitigate their costs", the Steering Group:

searched the market place for an accreditation body that would not only offer a financially beneficial scheme exclusively to IDEA members but who were also prepared to be flexible and develop the scheme in conjunction with IDEA rather than just a “take it or leave it” approach.

"ECMK met those criteria", he concludes.

Searching the market place - Who was asked?

It has since emerged, however, that the IDEA did not search the market place comprising of just nine accreditation schemes at all, this website can reveal. 

Other schemes, on hearing the news, are now viewing the Institute's "exclusive" deal as a competitive move which looks certain to undermine its reach and influence amongst the bodies that police the industry.

Philip Salaman, Managing Director of Quidos Accreditation Scheme, was clear when asked if they were approached by the IDEA: "No", he said.

Brian Scannell, Managing Director of NHER, confirmed they had not been approached either, adding: "[We are] a little surprised; it's not what you would normally expect of an institution."

Future relations

When asked if the deal would affect NHER's relationship with the institute going forward, Brian said: "It's impossible for it not to, in some ways, affect our relationship because they are effectively tied up with a competitor".

As for Quidos, Philip Salaman answered with his own question: "What relationship?".

Although no one was available to comment officially from the other accreditation bodies in time for publication (including ECMK), a senior staff-member of one scheme told me he was not aware of any approach by the IDEA, adding that he thought the move, "odd".

Level playing field

Commenting further on the decision to 'get in bed' with ECMK, Brian said: "They have made that decision for their own reasons - I honestly don't know what they are - I presume, it's in part, to try and get a good deal for their members, and that's fine. But if that was the case you would expect they would have approached all of the accreditation schemes."

A point echoed by Philip Salaman: "You certainly don't expect an independent institute to tie "exclusive" deals with a single accreditation scheme, and then expect everyone excluded to believe they can be independent and objective, do you?". Adding: "We would happily consider any approach from representative organisations to look at, say, a member discount scheme or something, but obviously, the benefits have to be presented on a level playing field."

"Of course it will affect any future relations - It has to."

I didn't order this!

According to the newsletter, the deal with ECMK is a result of a poll conducted on the IDEA' internet forum which asked: "Should IDEA become an accreditation body?".

Of the votes cast, the majority were in favour.

However, the deal - which was rumoured to be in advanced negotiations even before the forum poll closed - does not, in fact, establish the Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors as an accreditation body at all, as Brian notes: "A couple of hundred people said 'yes', but instead of them becoming one, they've done this deal with ECMK".

"I think it's a question of: What do you want IDEA to be? If they want to become an accreditation scheme, fine, but recognise that that means they are competing in a commercial market" he warned.

Members without a vote 

It has now come to light that not all IDEA members knew of the poll: Despite receiving £20,000 in sponsorship from HES last year - and commission income from the Home Information Packs (HIPs) members sell and pass-through to Hip2Go - the Institute never bothered to send out any letters to members who had opted not to "receive email from administrators", according to an answer the Chief Executive gave to Home Inspector Forum member, vectistim, who was not notified of the vote.

The decision to bind the institute to an agreement with ECMK was based on the votes of just 10.9% of the 1564 DEAs the Chief Exec claims to have as members. It has not been revealed how many members were notified of the poll.

As detailed below, it would require 20% of members - over 300 people, nearly double votes cast in the poll - to call for the decision to be reviewed at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM).

Unconstitutional - "A company without members"

Serious doubts are now also being raised over the powers the Steering Group might have to sign deals on behalf of the Institute, according to Dawn Pillans, a qualified solicitor now working as a consultant through Dawn2Dusk which specialises in contracts and Terms & Conditions for HIPs and EPCs.

She has discovered it would require 20% of members to challenge what she claims is an "unconstitutional action". "It's a tricky situation for members", she said.

"Having read the Constitution, it would appear the Steering Group had no power to do this deal on behalf of the 'institute'. However, according to Companies House records, the Institute is set up as a company without members. Therefore, if the company's Memorandum of Association allows it, then Directors can do the deal with, or without, 'member' approval!"

She added: "If members now wish to overturn that unconstitutional action, 20% of the members have to write in calling for an EGM [Extraordinary General Meeting] to review this action. That is 300 members based on IDEA's declared membership of 1500."


Farewell to the Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors

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Posts: 8
Democracy with IDEA
Reply #1 on : Sat April 19, 2008, 19:02:39
Under the IDEA Constitution (posted on the IDEA forum) the only powers the IDEA Steering Group have are under the 'Transitional Arrangements'. These are effectively the powers to:
1. open a bank account (Clause 16d),
2. prepare an 'Introductory Document' (Clause 16b).

To this has been added the power to elect two of their own members to serve as Chairman and Vice Chairman on a two year tenure, rather than just until the first AGM (Clause 6.2).

The full powers of the Institute actually vest in the Executive Committee which will be elected at the first AGM (apart from the appointed Chairman and Vice Chairman).

This has been ignored by the IDEA Steering Committee. Even though they are on notice that their actions in recent weeks have been unconstitutional, and there is a constitutional crisis which will affect any AGM, the only 'News Alert' issued by IDEA in response has been an announcement about another poll on what subscriptions should be charged.

Unfortunately for the democratic process it is virtually impossible to get 300 IDEA members to unite to request an EGM to question the actions of the IDEA Steering Group.

Judging by the way the current IDEA leadership expels/suspends members and removes posts who/which express views contrary to those of the IDEA Steering Group and/or Chief Executive, nothing can be posted on the IDEA forum calling for an EGM or even raising the issue.

I posted some threads on the HI Forum - the only other open forum for DEAs - one to test the level of IDEA membership and one to test the interest in calling an EGM to discuss the Constitutional crisis that IDEA is facing. Response numbers and viewings are shown on the forum so voting is democratic and transparent.

As at this moment in time 511 people have viewed the post asking IDEA members to confirm their membership at:

16 people have posted responses and of those, 9 were IDEA members, one had been asked to leave and one had been expelled. Five were just having an open chat!

The other thread which asked people to post a response if they wanted an EGM to discuss the many Constitutional issues facing IDEA was immediately hijacked by known supporters of IDEA making posts which ignored the wording:

"If you don't want an EGM called please don't screw up the vote count by posting here. Post your reasons for not wanting an EGM on a new thread. If you ignore this request your motives might be questioned!"

Those leaving irrelevant postings included Mark Hubbard, one of the original IDEA Steering Group members and allegedly the person who introduced or recommended Jim Gillespie to HES when they funded the IDEA start up.

I wonder why he did not want an EGM to consider what the IDEA Steering Group and Chief Executive were doing, and had the power to do?

The purpose for making these posts on the HI Forum was to test whether the IDEA figure of 1564 members was remotely accurate and just how easy it would be to unite 20% (@300 members) in a common cause. It has been alleged that this is the number of 'membership certificates' sent out, including those people who applied for access to the IDEA forum, rather than people actually applying to join.

As only 9 IDEA members have been identified out of 511 people who have viewed that thread on the HI Forum the conclusion is that:
1. the number of IDEA members may not be as high as claimed, and
2. it will be virtually impossible for the IDEA members to express their concern and/or displeasure at the unconstitutional actions of the IDEA Steering Group.

"Democracy rules KO"....or perhaps not!

There are authorities out there who can police the actions of the IDEA Steering Group, given that they do not consider themselves bound to follow the Constitution which was prepared by Jim Gillespie and Steve Roberts, and it is to be hoped that they will look into this.

Posts: 8
Accreditation schemes view deal as competition
Reply #2 on : Sun April 20, 2008, 00:14:38
Maybe I'm being a bit naive here but the constant sniping of The IDEA seems to me to be driven by a few individuals who have taken a dislike to JG or have fell out with him. Whilst some of the criticism is fair enough and worthy of discussion, but some of it I find petty and will in fact turn people away from the bits which should be looked at! For instance complaining at not being contacted about a poll when you are marked down not to be contacted by email is pathetic. The poll ran for a good few weeks and if you don't visit the forum to keep up to date it's no good winging when you don't know what's going on.

Complaints are made of decisions being taken on the back of a low turnout in a poll, whilst others on the HIF contemplate that the actual number of IDEA members is over exaggerated.

I personally voted as a "don't know" as I felt more info was required to make a decision and I'm certainly far from delighted with the ECMK arrangement but in any organisation it's unlikely that 100% agreement will be reached on everything.

I commend people such as Dawn and others for their commitment to this industry but the conspiracy theories are becoming tiresome. There are many things which need improving at IDEA imo, but constantly criticising without a positive motive is not the way to inspire change.

I suppose I'll now face the wrath of the anti IDEA brigade for daring to question their motives, still......... What the Hell

Posts: 8
When is an Institute not an Institute
Reply #3 on : Sun April 20, 2008, 06:06:27
If you set up an Institute to represent its members, it is imperative that it does just that, in an open and transparent manner.

It is quite clear that IDEA is not what many people think it is, it is not IMHO (and the opinion of many others) properly constituted and it is certainly not there for the benefit of it's members!!

I believe there is a duty of care in all law abiding citizens to expose those persons or companies who mislead or misrepresent - for example those Training Providers who advertise Home Inspector careers and income levels that do not exist or the rogue trader who cons the old lady for a job that doesn't need doing.

Is there not also a duty of care to expose those who are behind 'Institutes' that are really commercial organisations with 'other motives'??

It's not personal!!

Posts: 8
Re: Accreditation schemes view deal as competition
Reply #4 on : Sun April 20, 2008, 07:42:00
Not being contacted about a poll because they 'ticked' the 'do not contact me' box is one thing.

Posting the poll on an area of the IDEA website which cannot be accessed by all IDEA members is another.

Certain individuals were left off the mailing list even though they never 'ticked the box' to be excluded and are known to be concerned about IDEA Steering Group activities.

Why did the IDEA Steering Group feel the need to be so selective about who was told about the existence of the poll and who could access it?

Posts: 8
Re: Accreditation schemes view deal as competition
Reply #5 on : Sun April 20, 2008, 08:23:35
Steve - you won't get any 'wrath' from this quarter! I thought, and still feel, that DEAs need a voice in this fledgling industry. IDEA initially certainly suggested that they could offer the support and 'voice' needed. Being the originator of the North East DEA support group (with numbers in excess of 100), I and my colleagues met on a regular basis in an attempt to offer support, put together some semblence of T&Cs (pre Dawn!), offer CPD training (Mark Leck) and make plans for a way forward in the region. We even planned to appropriate work as a group, strength in numbers etc. Unfortunately, a certain individual (I'll leave you to guess who) undermined this good work with his negativity (often stating that I was wasting my time with this lot), accusing us of being 'just another panel'. Feel free to see exactly how a 'professional' chief exec behaves by viewing our North East forum at I never delete or remove posts - all very transparent (unlike others). Oh, how the worm has turned. I speak as I find, and unfortunately, the leadership of IDEA has been found wanting. Vested interests and hidden agenda are the order of the day. I was of course asked to leave (after using me and my husband (web designer) to trial the IDEA website and provide feedback). Why? I had dared to question the motives and ability of the leadership. No surprises there then.
Steve, I wish you well, and please feel free to call me should you wish to chat about the business in the North East - many still do to this day. Pam Duncanson.

Posts: 8
You could no be more wrong.
Reply #6 on : Sun April 20, 2008, 12:25:24
Everone is entitled to their opinion that is the point.
Those of us that have had dealings with JG personally can make informed decisions as can you.
I was a main supporter of JG in the early days of IDEA until i started to realise his agenda and so did many others.
Look at Mikes article read it carefully it is fact. The quotes in it from Brian Scannel and Phillip Salaman are right.
Other accreditation orgs should have been contacted, I told JG last year to get try and get a meeting with all these orgs around one table with a view of how we can we all work together and make this industry stable.
He paid lip service and done nothing about it. We went to a meeting with Elmhurst and Jim never wanted me to release any of our CPD info or our future plans.
Im sorry you feel the way you do but JG has to be stopped from damaging this industry any further.
We all recognise that there is a need for an org to represent us and I for one thought it was going to be IDEA andf still coild be with the right team heading it up.
By the way let me now say I have no intentions putting myself in the frame for any of these positions.

Regards Chris

Posts: 8
IDEA Constitution is NOT ratified
Reply #7 on : Mon April 21, 2008, 22:24:02
Those people who missed the entertaining exchanges on the Home Inspector's forum on Sunday will have missed this admission from Jim Gillespie, Chief Executive of IDEA (see

"You make continual reference to an IDEA constitution Dawn that, as yet, has not been ratified. This week I am meeting with both the company who designed and hosts our website and our legal representatives to ensure everything is as it should be for both our forthcoming conference and our AGM. If, as a result of your recent postings we need to alter,amend or change anything we will of course do so. "

So Jim Gillespie has admitted on a public forum that the actions of IDEA since its inception have not been in accordance with a valid Constitution.

He also admits that he is considering changes to the unratified Constitution as a result of my postings.

However, he has refused to confirm if he will reinstate the IDEA member who was expelled, and three others who were suspended, for questioning whether the actions of the IDEA Steering Group and its Chief Executive were authorised by the IDEA Constitution. They couldn't have been authorised because IDEA doesn't yet have a valid Constitution, eight months after it came into existence!

Perhaps ECMK might like to consider the legal standing of any contract they have with the Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors. It may only be binding on Jim Gillespie's company of the same name.

Posts: 8
Re: Accreditation schemes view deal as competition
Reply #8 on : Tue April 22, 2008, 16:05:41
It seems that many people were right when they raised concerns about the unconstitutional actions of the IDEA Steering Committee on this blog.

It is therefore interesting to note Jim Gillespie's statement on the IDEA Forum on 22nd March 2007 where he said:

"....I only deal in truths, not half truths or speculation....."

"When all else fails, people resort to dirty tricks campaigns and that is what you are witnessing on Mike C's blog. Nothing more, nothing less."

"What I would ask is that you try and ignore the mutterings and innuendos being spouted on Mike C's blog. There is a very small hard core of individuals on there who are hell bent in trying to bring IDEA down."

No Jim, I think there is a large group of individuals trying to make the Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors a democratic, transparent 'professional body of the highest standing'. An Institute with a fully elected Executive Committee, which operates in conjunction with a well thought out Constitution and Code of Conduct which have been ratified by the members.


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