Do you live in a high-rise block where you and your fellow residents are paying for a waking watch? If so, your freeholder or property manager can now apply for finance to pay for a fire alarm system to be installed instead.
The Government’s Waking Watch Relief Fund, announced before Christmas, opened on 31 January. it aims to take away from leaseholders and tenants the astronomical costs of waking watches in buildings with fire safety issues. These are estimated to be costing residents many thousands of pounds for each month they need to be in place, so the money is very welcome. It's been a long time coming. And installing fire alarms will not only rid residents of a hefty bill that many can’t afford, but should improve long term fire safety too.
The Government has published the criteria for the fund here. It sets out which buildings are eligible and what information is needed to make an application for funding. Funds are being prioritised to areas with the most unsafe high-rise buildings first. So blocks in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle and Sheffiled are top of the list and will share £22 million between them. The other £8 million will be allocated to the rest of the country.
But will the £30 million be enough? We hope so – and if it’s not then government needs to step in and provide more cash. As we blogged yesterday, it is anticipated that the Housing Minister will announce more money for its cladding fund – always set too low to make more than a dent in the problem but now expected to be extended to a more realistic sum. Even in the midst of a pandemic, the money must be found, both to fund building remediation and to ensure that residents can sleep more soundly in their beds while waiting for their blocks to be made safe.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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