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Welsh government seeks advice on fire safety grant scheme for social housing

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The Welsh Government has requested a report from the Subsidy Advice Unit (SAU) on its proposed Social Sector Medium and High-Rise Buildings (MHRRB) Fire Safety Grant Fund – Large Awards Scheme.

This request was made on 25 March 2024, marking the beginning of a process aimed at enhancing fire safety in social housing.

The SAU’s report, assessing the scheme’s compliance with subsidy control requirements, is expected within 30 working days, with a publication date set for 8 May 2024.

The proposed scheme focuses on addressing fire safety issues in medium and high-rise residential buildings within the social sector.

It aims to protect lives, ensure buildings comply with fire safety standards, and restore confidence in the safety of such housing.

The initiative will cover various areas, including cladding replacement, fire detection, alarm systems, evacuation alert systems, fire suppression systems, and compartmentation, ensuring comprehensive fire safety measures.

Key features and eligibility of the proposed social housing grant fund

The grant fund is designed to support registered social landlords and local authorities in remedying fire and structural safety issues in existing medium and high-rise buildings.

Eligible projects will address risks assessed within the fire safety plan, with a special emphasis on structures over 11 metres in height.

Since 2020, the fund has allocated approximately £134 million in capital funding, with the Large Awards Scheme set to cover projects requiring between £6-£16 million in subsidy packages.

Stakeholder engagement and feedback process

Third parties interested in commenting on the SAU’s assessment are encouraged to submit their views before 9 April 2024.

These submissions will contribute to the SAU’s evaluation and are intended to be shared with the Welsh Government, ensuring transparency and inclusiveness in the decision-making process.

The initiative highlights the Welsh Government’s commitment to improving fire safety standards and engaging with stakeholders to gather diverse perspectives on the proposed scheme.

IFSJ comment

The Welsh Government’s initiative to consult the Subsidy Advice Unit on the Social Sector MHRRB Fire Safety Grant Fund – Large Awards Scheme is a commendable step towards enhancing fire safety in social housing.

By focusing on comprehensive fire safety measures and seeking stakeholder feedback, the scheme demonstrates a proactive approach to addressing critical safety concerns.

This initiative is crucial for ensuring that social housing in medium and high-rise buildings meets the highest fire safety standards, protecting residents and restoring public confidence in the safety of these living spaces.

The engagement of third parties in the assessment process further ensures that the scheme is developed with a wide range of insights, contributing to more effective and inclusive fire safety solutions.

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