Housing providers can benefit from receiving consistent fire advice from 6th April

  • Social landlords are discussing with councils and fire authorities about registering for a new scheme designed to ensure they can benefit from more consistent advice and enforcement of fire safety regulations.

    Inside Housing reports that the government is extending the ‘primary authority' scheme to fire safety from 6th April.

    • The scheme enables a business to form a statutory partnership with a single authority that then provides advice and coordinates inspections and enforcement across all relevant authorities.
    • Therefore, a housing association in England and Wales with stock in multiple areas will be able to enter into an agreement with a single fire and rescue service to be its point of contact for regulation.
    • This could be directly, or through a trade association or franchise group.
    • The selected fire service, the ‘primary' authority, will give advice that fire services in other areas in which the association operates should take into account when carrying out inspections or dealing with non-compliance.

    To date, no social housing providers have registered for the scheme, however a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills said a number were ‘in conversation' with local authorities and fire and rescue services.

    Jan Taranczuk, vice chair of the Chartered Institute of Housing London regional board, said:

    "The extension of primary authority to fire safety was ‘great news' for the sector.

    ‘...It responds to the concerns expressed by housing managers across the country to combat inconsistent enforcement action from different fire authorities."

    Social landlords will have to pay a primary authority for its advice, with the charges expected to be in the region of £50 per hour.

    Despite the costs, Mr Taranczuk suggested housing associations could potentially save money by having consistent, accurate advice.

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