£300m high-rise safety bill

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Rhi­an­non Bury

HOUS­ING as­so­ci­a­tions and coun­cils across the coun­try are rush­ing to im­prove the fire safety of their so­cial hous­ing blocks by out­sourc­ing more than £300m of work through the two big­gest con­tract awards in eight years.

Land­lords have faced in­creas­ing pres­sure to in­stall ex­tra mea­sures to pre­vent and fight fires in high-rise blocks af­ter the Gren­fell Tower dis­as­ter in June, in which an es­ti­mated 80 peo­ple lost their lives af­ter a fire ripped through the flats in west Lon­don.

Ear­lier this week, the North­ern Hous­ing Con­sor­tium, which rep­re­sents hun­dreds of com­pa­nies man­ag­ing af­ford­able hous­ing in the North of Eng­land, pub­lished a £150m ten­der for a new “fire safety frame­work”, which in­cludes the in­stal­la­tion of fire alarms and sprin­kler sys­tems and fire fight­ing equip­ment in so­cial hous­ing. A week pre­vi­ously, so­cial hous­ing re­gen­era- tion con­sor­tium Re:al­lies pub­lished a £163m con­tract ten­der to carry out fire risk as­sess­ments and fire pre­ven­tion work in homes and pub­lic build­ings. Re:al­lies rep­re­sents more than 100 land­lords, ten­der­ing ma­jor con­tracts on their be­half in or­der to make buy­ing ser­vices more ef­fi­cient.

The fire con­tract will mostly be used by land­lords who own so­cial hous­ing, but could be rolled out for use on schools and pub­lic of­fices. Around £100m of the money is ex­pected to go on fit­ting sprin­kler sys­tems to flats.

The con­tracts are the two largest ten­ders pub­lished since 2009 and show the scale of the work now un­der way as land­lords seek to ret­ro­spec­tively fit homes with fire safety equip­ment. There was no cen­tral sprin­kler sys­tem at Gren­fell, which mem­bers of the Fire Pro­tec­tion As­so­ci­a­tion said would have “un­doubt­edly” saved lives.

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