Fire alarm

Government opens £30m Waking Watch Relief Fund



Tens of thousands of residents in high-rise buildings can now access financial support to make their buildings safer while they wait for remediation work to complete, following the announcement from housing secretary Robert Jenrick on the opening of the Waking Watch Relief Fund on 31st January.

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The £30m fund will protect leaseholders from the high costs of waking watches (where a building is continually patrolled in case of a fire) by providing financial support for fire alarms installed on or after 17th December 2020.

Private sector buildings over 18 metres with unsafe cladding systems and where waking watch costs have been passed on to leaseholders will be eligible.

Social sector buildings where the registered provider can evidence that leaseholders were passed the costs for the waking watch installation of an alarm will also be eligible.

The fund will be distributed through councils, regional authorities and directly through the housing ministry, depending on the location of the building. 

The money is available for buildings across England, with £22m targeted to the metropolitan areas estimated to have the most eligible buildings, including Greater London, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Newcastle and Sheffield.

The remaining £8m will be centrally administered and is available for buildings across all other areas of England.

The ministry will work closely with councils and fire and rescue services on the delivery of the fund.

The Responsible Person (RP) — the person or business in charge of ensuring the safety of residents in their building — can apply for the fund and provide the evidence needed.

The RPs are encouraged to speak to their local fire and rescue service about the installation of the fire alarms in their building and to keep leaseholders informed.

“We know many people are anxious about the costs of waking watches, which was always only intended as an interim measure while historic safety issues were fixed,” said Jenrick.

“This fund will relieve the financial pressure on residents in these buildings and ensure they will be kept safe. 

“I encourage those who are eligible not to delay and to start their applications swiftly so we can distribute the funds as quickly as possible.”

The fund is not a substitute for swift remediation of unsafe cladding — for which the government has provided £1.6bn in financial support.

This builds on steps the government has already taken to support leaseholders, including securing an agreement that owners of flats in buildings without cladding do not need an EWS1 form to sell or remortgage their property, which is expected to benefit nearly 450,000 homeowners.



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