£300m high-rise safety bill
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.