fire safety

27 Jul 23

An investigation by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has found that Camden Council breached the consumer standards due to more than 9,000 outstanding fire safety actions in its homes.

In addition to these outstanding actions, the RSH said the London Borough of Camden has more than 9,000 homes that do not have a smoke alarm installed, and around 4,000 homes with no carbon monoxide detector fitted. 

This evidence demonstrates a failure by the council to complete all fire safety actions in a timely manner and to mitigate the risks to tenants in the meantime.

As a result, the English regulator said it expects the council to take urgent action to address these failings.

Councils frequently issue fines of £12,000 to £15,000 PER PROPERTY for such life-threatening offences. It seems that councils Geoff scot-free when they keep tenants in mortal danger with Category 1 HHSRS Hazards.

Following the the RSH’s investigation, Camden said it is introducing monthly reporting to members of the Housing Scrutiny Committee, and its Fire Safety and Compliance Advisory Panel.

Alongside the additional reporting, it will look at strengthening existing processes so it can address all high-risk actions within recommended timescales and work to engage residents and find new ways to improve access to their homes.

The council explained that it is finding it difficult to access up to 40% of homes to complete works under its smoke detector programme.

Kate Dodsworth, chief of regulatory engagement at the RSH, said: “Through our investigation, we found that Camden Council has failed to address thousands of fire safety actions in its tenants’ homes. This is unacceptable and has put tenants at potential risk of harm. The council needs to act urgently to put things right, and we will scrutinise it closely as it does this. 

“Our findings send a clear message to all social landlords that meeting health and safety requirements is of paramount importance. Tenants deserve to live in safe and decent homes, and we will take action when landlords breach our standards.”

Georgia Gould, leader of Camden Council, said: “There is nothing more important than the safety of our residents and we are taking this notice very seriously. Six years ago, I said fire safety was our first priority and that we would invest in a new era of resident safety. 

“We are investing more than £200m in a wide range of safety improvements; we’ve published all fire risk assessments (FRAs) and carried out more than 40,000 individual safety improvements and repairs.

“But we know that there is still more work to be done to complete all remaining higher-risk actions, along with all other lower-risk actions. A programme of work is in place for delivery this year and next.

“I won’t be content until every action is complete and that’s what our teams are working on. We recognise that many of the remaining actions outlined by the regulator are difficult for residents, such as the removal of security grilles. We will be working alongside residents to complete these.

“Our focus has been on meeting the standards required by FRAs, but we also want to get to an even higher standard across the board, a standard of excellent housing that our residents deserve.”

Ms Gould said the council needs help from the government to address years of underinvestment in council housing, but also promised that the council will act faster within its already stretched resources in future. 

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