What is being done to correct bad workmanship in existing homes and improve build quality to ensure that future homes are built to building regulations?
The vast majority of our homes have no issues. But if there are problems, there is a very clear process to resolve it and we are really focused on dealing with any cases with real urgency and thoroughness.
If any customer is dissatisfied then we encourage them to contact their local Persimmon office who will take all reasonable action to put things right. And if, after that process, they remain dissatisfied with Persimmon’s response they should consult their warranty provider’s dispute resolution service. But it is our firm intention that problems should not reach this stage.
As I have already outlined, we are committed to addressing all build quality issues and are confident that we have already improved our processes.
We’re introducing the Persimmon Way and our new Construction Working Group will deliver uniform, technically robust, guidelines which all regions will follow. Our newly appointed Construction Champion will promote the Persimmon Way, with our 31 Independent Quality Inspectors performing assurance work throughout the construction process.
We intend to implement an external audit process, similar to our Health and Safety procedures, to ensure that the Persimmon Way is being followed. This will translate into the production of high quality homes and resulting higher customer satisfaction.
Shareholders aren’t able to ask questions at your AGM today as you haven’t held your AGM virtually, despite other companies holding their AGMs on line. As you haven’t, here is my question to the Board.
My question today relates to the Voluntary Living Wage as established by the Living Wage Foundation. I was pleased to learn that Persimmon have adopted the wage rates set by the Foundation. Accrediting as a Living Wage employer would not only indicate good corporate governance to your investors, but it would also signal a strong commitment to Persimmon’s direct employees and contracted workers. I am conscious that Persimmon have been faced with unprecedented challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, now more than ever, investors are looking for companies to take a responsible approach to managing their workforce. Retaining a well-trained and committed workforce will benefit companies when business operations are able to resume. In this light, I would like to ask the Board to provide an update to Persimmon’s position in regards to accrediting as a Living Wage employer.
In regard to your first question about the format of our AGM today, the Company’s articles do not permit fully virtual AGM’s. The Board will consider whether to ask shareholders to approve an amendment to the articles to allow virtual meetings in the future.
Under the Government’s current measures, shareholders are not be able to attend the meeting in person. We have instead taken the decision to make the proceedings available by a webcast, to enable shareholders to listen to the proceedings of the AGM from their homes.
Your other question, referred to the Voluntary Living Wage. At this stage, we are continuing with our decision to pay all of our employees in line with the payment criteria of the Living Wage Foundation. We are not currently pursuing Living Wage accreditation. As your question notes, Persimmon has implemented a range of measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Around 30% of Group colleagues were unable to work during the shutdown period but have continued to be paid in full by Persimmon. Some employees are now returning to work as part of our phased restart to work on site, in support of the UK Government's objective of getting the construction sector back to work. The Group has not made use of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff.
We are proud of the way our Persimmon colleagues have responded to the COVID-19 challenge to support their local communities through voluntary work, charity support and other practical measures such as donation of essential PPE to the NHS.