Government opens £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund for applications
02 March 2021
TENS OF thousands of residents living in high-rise structures can now access financial support to make their buildings safer while they wait for remediation work to complete with Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announcing that the Waking Watch Relief Fund is now open for applications.
The £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund created by the Conservative Government 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, which will also make buildings safer in the longer term.
The Waking Watch Relief Fund will be distributed through councils, regional authorities and directly through the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, depending on the location of the building. The funding is available for buildings across England, with £22 million targeted at the cities with most high-rise buildings currently having unsafe cladding, namely Greater London, Greater Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle and Sheffield.
Buildings over 18 metres in height with unsafe cladding systems and where Waking Watch costs have been passed on to leaseholders will be eligible.
Anxious on costs
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We know many people are anxious about the costs of Waking Watches, which are always only intended as an interim measure while historic safety issues are being fixed. The Waking Watch Relief 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 start their application processes swiftly so that we can distribute the funds as quickly as possible.”
The Responsible Person – ie the individual or business responsible for ensuring the safety of residents in their building – can apply for funding and provide the evidence needed. Responsible Persons are encouraged to speak to their local Fire and Rescue Service about the installation of fire alarms in their building and to keep leaseholders informed.
The criteria for the Waking Watch Relief Fund have been published, setting out which buildings are eligible for funding, the evidence needed to apply and how applications will be assessed, as well as the way in which funding is provided.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will work closely with councils and Fire and Rescue Services alike on the delivery of the Waking Watch Relief Fund.
The Waking Watch Relief Fund is not intended to act as a substitute for swift remediation of unsafe cladding for which the Government has provided £1.6 billion 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 EWS-1 Form to sell or re-mortgage their property. This move alone benefits nearly 450,000 homeowners.
These measures are part of the Government’s commitment to improve the safety of buildings across the country which will be enshrined in law through the Building Safety Bill. Around 95% of the highest risk buildings with unsafe cladding similar to that found on Grenfell Tower have been made safe or have work underway compared to a year ago, with remediation work begun on 159 buildings last year compared to 90 in 2019.