Category Archives: Company News

HICS Celebrate 5 Years with George Clarke

February 2024 marks the five year anniversary with George Clarke as Brand Ambassador for The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Scheme (HICS).

HICS and George both share a commitment to upholding the highest standards in the home improvement industry.

Reflecting on the milestone, George Clarke, HICS Brand Ambassador, comments,

“Celebrating five years with HICS has been nothing short of fantastic. I am proud to support them in their mission to protect consumers.

“Looking back on my incredible journey with HICS fills me with immense gratitude and pride. Being Brand Ambassador has been an honour and witnessing the dedication and team spirit of the staff at HICS and their members has been truly inspiring. Together, we’ve achieved remarkable milestones, and I look forward to continuing this journey of excellence with them.”

Faisal Hussain, HICS Chief Executive, comments,

“As we mark the five year milestone alongside our Brand Ambassador, George Clarke, I am reminded of the core values that have guided us on this incredible journey

“At HICS, consumer protection and installer support are not just a goal; it’s a commitment that lies at the heart of everything we do. Collaborating with George and our dedicated team at HICS, we’ve embraced the power of unity, ensuring that interactions with HICS leave a lasting impression of satisfaction and trust.

“Our partnership with George has been fantastic and together we’ve listened, learned, and evolved, always with the shared goal of raising standards, protecting consumers, and empowering our HICS members to thrive. Here’s to many more years of success and continued dedication to consumer protection with George by our side.”

Take a listen: Mental Health & Wellbeing Podcast series from HICS & NHIC

The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Scheme (HICS) recently teamed up with the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) along with medical experts, frontline charity workers and HICS representatives to share first hand insight and knowledge about the industry’s current mental health and wellbeing challenges.

Faisal Hussain, HICS Chief Executive, comments:

“During this carefully researched and structured series, the six episodes cover the following topics: mental health support in the sector and its effects on productivity; what does a good work life balance look like; managing loneliness working away from home; the importance of a holistic approach to supporting your team; and Mental Health Support in the Home Improvement and Renewables sectors and for trades people. The last podcast, which is relevant to today’s current economic challenges, tackles finances: Accessing debt support for better financial health. It’s been really interesting to see the engagement levels so far there have been hundreds of downloads.

“I’ve personally been encouraged to see how much mental health and wellbeing have become more comfortable topics of conversation in our sector and are on the agenda now for many businesses.”

Interesting panel of speakers

Running during Autumn to coincide with Suicide Prevention Month in September and depression and mental health awareness month in October, we had a great panel of speakers who shared their personal experiences. These included Hannah Vickers, Chief of Staff at Mace and Head of Productivity at the Construction Leadership Council’ Martin Lockham from Mates in Mind, George Jones from Cahill Renewables, Tony Steel from Band of Builders, GP Dr Rachel Cooper MBBS MRCGP, and Greg Jenkinson from Step Change.

Variety of places to download each series

There are a variety of places where you can easily reach the podcast series, either directly from the PodBean platform, or from mainstream brands such as Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or YouTube. The number of listens of each podcast is increasing, and it’s clear that there is value in these sensitive topics being discussed in such a transparent and heartfelt manner.

Faisal concludes:

“It’s great to have such a positive response to the podcasts and know that they are having the positive impact we hoped for. This was confirmed by one listener emailing us to say that he realised he was experiencing burn out after listening to the podcast. He didn’t understand what he was feeling beforehand, but the podcast gave him some clarity and helped him move forward. If we help just one person with these podcasts, we’re happy, but we’d dearly like to see others in the industry gain benefit from the shared insights given on the podcast.”

If you are reading this and struggling now, regardless of whether you’re a HICS member or not, we urge you to reach out for confidential 24/7 support by texting HARDHAT on 85258.

Launch of new mental health and wellbeing podcast series

HICS has teamed up with the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) for a new podcast series to delve deeper into our industry’s pressing mental health and wellbeing challenges, and with the help of experts, to offer insight and support. HICS Chief Executive, Faisal Hussain, explains more.

Building on our two-year campaign for better mental health and wellbeing for those who work tirelessly in our sector to deliver home improvements, we decided that there was so much more we can do to help. So, along with our other Schemes, we started a collaboration with the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC), to bring together medical experts, frontline charity workers and HICS representatives to prioritise and shine a light on mental health and well-being, in a new series of six podcasts to be released in September and October 2023.

A broad range of topics

During this carefully researched and structured series, the six episodes will cover:

  • Mental health support in the industry for tradespeople: why are mental health issues prevalent in our sector; what are the effects on productivity and business; what support is out there?
  • Managing demands on your time: what does a good work life balance look like, how to juggle workloads, the importance of downtime and as simple as it sounds, how to take a break
  • Managing loneliness: many of our sector have to work away from home. We share some worrying stats of just how much of an issue this can be, and share strategies and solutions
  • Taking a holistic approach to supporting your team; the importance of training to raise awareness and help prevent crisis through better management and communication
  • Improving wellbeing and mental health; managing common mental health problems like anxiety and depression; building resilience and practical steps to take for a strong mindset
  • Accessing debt support and achieving financial health; taking control of your financial position and minimising money stress

We’d like to say a huge thank you to our own team who took part, as well as the esteemed guests we spoke to including Hannah Vickers, Chief of Staff at Mace and Head of Productivity at the Construction Leadership Council; Martin Lockham from Mates in Mind; George Jones from Cahill Renewables; Tony Steel from Band of Builders; GP Dr Rachel Cooper MBBS MRCGP: and Greg Jenkinson, from Step Change.

Listen now: https://nhic.podbean.com/

HICS investment in people is rewarded with ISO 9001

Home Improvement Consumer Protection Scheme (HICS) has been awarded ISO 9001, validating their investment in both their team and customer care processes. ISO 9001 is the internationally recognised standard for Quality Management, focussing on a key set of Quality Principles, including leadership, engagement, continual improvement and evidence-based decision making.

Faisal Hussain, HICS Chief Executive, comments on the achievement,

“To be awarded ISO 9001 – with no non-conformities, I’d like to add – gives members and homeowners confidence that, when they contact HICS for any reason, they can be sure that they will receive the best level of service. Having ISO 9001 confirms that the foundations we have put in place in recent years have given us a solid basis for growth.

“As an organisation, our ethos is to protect consumers and raise standards within the home improvement industry, with support for both members and consumers being at our heart. Quality is a word we use a lot internally, whether it’s the quality of the team, our processes, our communication, or our service. It’s the starting point for all we do, and we are continuously looking for ways to improve on it.

“To this end, we have recently further strengthened our leadership team and have recruited a new Head of Quality and a new Head of Operations.

“Our Head of Quality will be looking at the members’ side of the business, and how we can improve the experience for them. This includes spending more time on-site at our members’ premises to ensure standards and compliance, but also to offer advice. Our Head of Operations will concentrate on our internal processes and ways in which we can be more efficient and offer an even better service by ensuring we hit key milestones, like phone calls answered within 30 seconds and emails replied to within 48 hours.

“Growing the team and investing at senior level builds on the strong foundations that were already in place, with future growth and improvement being a constant theme. We never allow ourselves to get complacent, or to think the job is done. All processes, policies and procedures are continuously reviewed and tested. For example, we are currently reviewing our equality policy because we must also ensure we provide a fair working environment for our people. They are the foundation for the quality we strive for every day.”

HICS welcome Primary Authority Relationship with West Yorkshire Trading Standards

HICS are pleased to announce their Primary Authority relationship with West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

The Primary Authority relationship between HICS and West Yorkshire Trading Standards means that HICS members will be able to benefit from legally backed advice from West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

The legally backed advice will be available across many areas such as compliance, model contracts and documentation. West Yorkshire Trading Standards will also support HICS members on delivering excellent service to consumers. The assured advice offered by West Yorkshire Trading Standards must be respected by other regulators.

Faisal Hussain, Chief Executive of HICS, comments:

“We’re thrilled to welcome our Primary Authority relationship with West Yorkshire Trading Standards to HICS. We hope that our Primary Authority partnership will provide another layer of added value to our members. We have a great network of contacts for our members and we’re so pleased to provide yet another one through our Primary Authority relationship.”

Michelle Bucknell, Business Development Lead Officer at West Yorkshire Trading Standards, comments:

“We are delighted to enter into a Primary Authority partnership with HICS so that we can work together to ensure its members achieve the highest levels of compliance and their customers can be satisfied in the knowledge that they are contracting with a business that wants to comply.”

HICS members interested in accessing legally backed advice should raise their interest to HICS by emailing info@hicsscheme.org.uk or calling HICS on 0333 323 2655.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Exclusive product safety seminar for members

dgcos hies hics webinar

Consumer protection organisations HICS, DGCOS, and HIES, are holding a member exclusive seminar on product compliance with the Office for Product Safety Standards and West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

The seminar will focus on product safety with a strong emphasis on importing. It will cover:

  • Who is an importer?
  • What must importers do to comply?
  • Who can help importers?
  • Who are the bodies involved?
  • Product safety basics
  • Primary Authority

Importers have a lot more liabilities ensuring that a product is safe and that it complies with applicable laws and standards. From next year importers in England, Wales and Scotland will need to place the UK conformity assessment logo (UKCA) onto goods placed onto the market.

Adrian Simpson, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at DGCOS, HICS, and HIES, comments:

“From next year installers obligations will be changed. Many installers may become ‘importers’ which means they will need to be aware of the law regarding importation and product safety. We want our members to be prepared for the changes so are pleased to provide this exclusive training session with the experts.”

Michael Kearney, Head of Business Engagement at the Office for Product Safety and Standards, comments:

“The Office for Product Safety and Standards is developing a trusted product safety system that delivers protection for consumers, fairness for business and a competitive marketplace defined by outcomes of safety and public confidence. To achieve this, it is important that we raise awareness and provide support across the supply chain and particularly in new, innovative and growing market sectors.”

The seminar is free and will be held remotely on Tuesday 9th March, 10am – 11am.

HICS members who are interested should email communications@hicsscheme.org.uk to register their interest.

Faisal Hussain joins HICS as New Chief Executive

Consumer protection scheme, HICS, welcomes new Chief Executive, Faisal Hussain. Faisal will be working with the HICS team to ensure consumers continue to be protected and to support HICS members in delivering excellent customer service and winning more business.

Faisal brings in-depth knowledge and experience in home improvement as well as having many years’ experience in marketing, project management, and research and development. Faisal is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a member of various industry working groups. 

Faisal Hussain, HICS Chief Executive, comments:

“Thank you to everyone for a warm welcome and it’s great to be part of an organisation whose philosophy is about raising standards. 

We have a fantastic team who are committed to providing an excellent service to both consumers and members. I am looking forward to driving our ethos of consumer protection and supporting members in these uncertain times.”

HICS is a leading consumer protection organisation that covers the installation of a wide range of home improvement products. The consumer protection organisation has a trusted network of UK-based home improvement installers. When a homeowner uses one of these members, the homeowner will receive thorough consumer protection upon registration of their installation.

The protection that homeowners will receive is completely free to the consumer and they will get access to Alternative Dispute Resolution, access to a consumer advice line, access to an Independent Ombudsman, Deposit & Stage Payment Protection Insurance, and an Insurance Backed Guarantee (upon completion of the contract).

HICS is endorsed by architect and TV presenter, George Clarke, who works with HICS to ensure that consumers are respected, protected, and educated on their home improvement journey.

Positive signs for the home improvement sector as HICS installations soar by over 3000%

home installations

HICS, the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Scheme has seen a huge increase in home improvement installations, up by over 3000% in July as compared to the end of April.

HICS is a leading consumer protection organisation that gives consumers confidence when choosing accredited installers for their home improvement project. The 3000% increase represents over £3m worth of home improvements protected by the scheme.

Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director of QASSS, who manages the scheme commented:

“These are really positive signs for companies in the sector as lockdown has eased across the UK. Reputable HICS members demonstrate high standards of COVID-19 safety measures, which helps instil confidence in consumers to allow safe tradespeople in their homes to carry out glazing installations and other home improvements.”

The increase witnessed by HICS is also supported by other research in the home improvement sector, including recent research from Insight DIY which showed 55%% of Brits prioritising plans to update their home as the Covid-19 restrictions continue to be eased.

If you’re planning for a new home improvement project, make sure you instruct skilled tradesmen. Ensure they are a member of a consumer protection scheme demonstrating adherence to quality standards and service. Unfortunately, rogue companies are still operating, and scams have been on the increase recently in light of the Government’s Green Homes Grants scheme.

HICS offers real consumer protection, unmatched in the industry, and all of our members have been thoroughly vetted to guarantee exceptional service. Using a HICS member means you receive full protection, including free deposit and stage payment protection, free insurance backed guarantees, free mediation services and free access to an Ombudsman, in the unlikely event we are unable to help resolve a dispute.

Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

Coronavirus Contingency Plan

We are sending special thoughts to all our installers and consumers out there that may be experiencing a negative impact due to the coronavirus. This is a difficult time and we’re here to support you where we can.

We are currently operating remotely as normal so that we can all stay safe AND it will be business as usual to continue to support you and your customers.

General Operations

All our people are working remotely from home, including remote access for all emails and website contact emails.

Telephone Lines

Our telephone lines have been diverted so that all calls and enquires whether for our service delivery team, customer service or our ADR and complaints team, can be covered by our people remotely.

Non-Urgent Business

To ensure we continue to deliver our services to installers and customers, non-urgent business will continue to be reviewed, including the suspension of group meetings, business travel and attendance of exhibitions and events.

Inspections and Remedial Works

We have spoken with our inspection providers about their contingency plans and how their inspection and remedial services may be affected. All our suppliers have their own processes in place should the worst happen. All are currently operating as normal until advised otherwise. Should the situation worsen, our suppliers will be providing guidelines and information on their contingency plans which we will then share more widely.

Consumers

Consumers that use our installer network can rest assured our contingency plans mean that it will be business as usual. Our team can fully work remotely from home, meaning that they will have access to all emails and can take all phone calls as usual to deal with any complaints, disputes and/or support as usual.

For now, please keep safe and stay up to date with the advice from the NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Double Winners at the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020

QA Scheme Support Services (QASSS) took home two awards at the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020, including a silver award for Best Complaint Handling and a bronze award for Best Complaint Handling Team of the Year – Initiative.

QASSS operates three consumer protection schemes across home improvement, including HIES, HICS, and DGCOS*. The company entered their Resolution Revolution project into the complaint handling awards, a project led by their dispute resolution team the ‘ADR superheroes’. As finalists for the two awards, QASSS presented their initiatives to an expert panel of independent judges followed by the awards ceremony in London.

The QASSS Resolution Revolution project saw QASSS reach an average dispute resolution time of just 2 days whilst still delivering high satisfaction rates to their customers. All the while the industry average sits at 80 days (CTSI Report, 2018).

Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director of QASSS, commented, “It’s great to be recognised by these prestigious awards in both categories. Our dispute resolution team work extremely hard to resolve customer complaints quickly and fairly. We have had some record-breaking statistics recently, reaching an average resolution time of just 2 days, which is amazing. We’re looking forward to implementing further initiatives as we continually look at ways of improving our services.”

*DGCOS is the Double Glazing & Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme, HIES is the Home Insulation and Energy Systems Scheme and HICS is the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Scheme.

Photo from left to right: Adrian Simpson (QASSS) and Ciarán Harkin (QASSS).