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New £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund announced

Wednesday 23 December 2020

To help end the excessive waking watch costs and support thousands of residents, the Government fund will pay for the installation of fire alarm systems in high-rise buildings with cladding, removing or reducing the need for the costly interim measures.

The National Fire Chiefs Council has been clear in the guidance that building owners should move to install common fire alarm systems as quickly as possible to reduce or remove dependence on waking watches.

A six-month extension to the deadline for building owners to complete their applications to the £1 billion Building Safety Fund has also been announced - with a new deadline for submissions of 30 June 2021.

Leaseholders

The steps will help leaseholders who may have faced high costs for interim safety measures by providing financial support and delivering a better, long term fire safety system in their buildings.

The Government has already made to support leaseholders including securing an agreement that owners of flats in buildings without cladding do not need an EWS1 form to sell or re-mortgage their property, which will benefit nearly 450,000 homeowners.

Building safety

All these measures are part of the Government’s commitment to improving the safety of buildings across the country which will be protected by law through the Building Safety Bill in 2021. Some buildings have already installed these systems due to the significant savings this offers, with leaseholders in those buildings, who on average were paying £137 per month for a waking watch, expected to collectively save over £3 million per month.

The same research shows the wide range in costs faced by leaseholders and evidence of disproportionate charges – the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is writing to Trading Standards asking them to use their powers to investigate.

View announcement

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I’ve heard first-hand from leaseholders the misery that rip-off waking watch costs have been bringing to residents of high-rise buildings with cladding. We have continued to prioritise the removal of unsafe ACM cladding throughout the pandemic and expect around 95 per cent of remediation work will have been completed or be underway by the end of this year.

Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Housing Secretary

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The cost of 24-hour fire safety patrols is an expense that flat owners simply cannot afford. Although this fund is a step in the right direction and will go some way in helping leaseholders introduce a longer-term safety solution, it’s a massive issue that is accelerating, and therefore more funding of more significant levels be required to help all leaseholders in this situation.

Mark Hayward

Mark Hayward
Propertymark Chief Policy Advisor