The New £30 Million Waking Watch Relief Fund

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

Waking Watch Relief Fund - A Good Start but Not Enough?

The recent announcement of a £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund to help those affected by the UK’s cladding crisis has been met with a mixture of open arms and some criticism. When launching the fund, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who has criticised the Waking Watch system in the past, said he had heard first-hand from leaseholders the ‘misery that rip-off waking watch costs have been bringing to residents of high-rise buildings with cladding’.

What is Waking Watch?

Waking Watch is a method used to monitor these buildings 24/7 for signs of a fire, with those carrying out the watch given the responsibility of calling the fire service, alerting residents and assisting with the ‘simultaneous evacuation’ of said residents.

Why Has the Waking Watch Been Criticised?

A number of stories have appeared in recent months highlighting a lack of fire safety training for Waking Watch staff, as well as instances where they have fallen asleep or been caught watching tv, putting residents lives at risk.

Aside from the huge safety concerns, the price of Waking Watch is extortionate, averaging at £11,000 per month, per building. Often this is passed down to residents, some of whom are paying more a month now for the service than their rent or mortgage.

How Does the Waking Watch Fund Aim to Help?

While Mr Jenrick’s announcement of a £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund to install fire alarms in blocks that are spending this money is a positive starting point for change, the data suggest that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

What Could Be the Limitations of the Waking Watch Fund?

Estimations are that the £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund will cover approximately 400 buildings - but there are just shy of 600 waking watch teams in London alone. There are also already issues with the proposed distribution of the Waking Watch Relief Fund, with applications only being accepted if a building is above 18 metres in height and with dangerous cladding. This means buildings with other safety defects such as missing fire breaks will miss out.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has also announced an extension for applications relating to the £1 billion Building Safety Fund, now stretching to June 2021.

Again, while this is positive in one respect, it is also creating problems of its own. So far, 2820 applications have been made regarding the Building Safety Fund, but only 294 have been deemed eligible for funding.

Both streams of funding support are sure to be welcomed but will also create a number of issues for residents across the UK.

intelliclad can support those who are struggling with mental health and financial concerns due to the UK’s Cladding Crisis, offering a cheaper and more reliable alternative to Waking Watch.

intelliclad’s smart detection sensors can be integrated into the combustible external façade of high-risk buildings whilst a permanent solution is found, saving residents thousands of pounds a month in waking watch bills and potentially saving lives.

Response times for waking watch services are between 10 and 15 minutes once a fire is confirmed within a flat, as per current NFCC guidance.

Testing carried out on a specially constructed 10m wide and 9m high cladding rig at the Fire Service College’s national headquarters , showed Intelliclad sensors were activated six minutes and 33 seconds prior to cladding being breached by fire on test 1 and 9 minutes, 47 seconds prior on test 2.

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