The government is launching a £30 million fund to end the scandal of excessive ‘waking watch costs’, as part of a further move to support thousands of residents in high-rise buildings.
The new Waking Watch Relief Fund will pay for the installation of fire alarm systems in high-rise buildings with cladding – removing or reducing the need for costly interim safety measures such as ‘waking watch’.
The National Fire Chiefs Council has made it clear in recent guidance that building owners should move to install common fire alarm systems as quickly as possible to reduce or remove dependence on waking watches.
The fund will open in January. 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.
This means hundreds of buildings will be remediated and thousands of leasehold residents will be protected from costs.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: "I’m announcing today a £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund to help relieve the financial pressure on those residents and to ensure they are safe. I’m confident that this will make a real difference to worried leaseholders up and down the country this Christmas.
"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 under way by the end of this year."
National Fire Chiefs Council chair, Roy Wilsher said: "It has been our firm and long-held expectation that building owners should move to install common fire alarms as quickly as possible and this funding is a positive step."
Lord Porter, the spokesman on building safety for the Local Government Association, said: “This fund is good news to help address the ongoing costs to leaseholders of waking watches and reflects what the LGA has long called for.
“We are also pleased that the government has extended the deadline for applications to the building safety fund to ensure more eligible buildings can remove unsafe cladding.
“However, it does not alter the fact that the funding announced to remediate buildings with dangerous cladding remains too small to cover the number of buildings affected and help more leaseholders who are utterly blameless for this issue.
“The government needs to meet upfront remediation costs and then pursue those responsible in the courts.”
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