Residents of England’s thousands of high-rise blocks will soon be able to sleep easier in their beds. The Tenant Services Authority this week moved to meet one of the demands of Inside Housing’s Safe as houses campaign.
One of three key goals in our battle to stop preventable deaths from gas and fire is to establish a register of all tower blocks, recording when their most recent fire safety inspection was carried out. It is great news that the TSA has recognised the importance of this step and we will continue to press for its introduction as soon as possible.
However, we still have two demands left. One requires landlords to commit to install fire evacuation notices on every floor of every high-rise. No small ask, but the fact that we already have the backing of 60 social landlords with responsibility for hundreds of thousands of homes shows how seriously much of the sector takes this issue.
The final demand is perhaps the toughest: to change the building regulations to require the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in all new homes with gas appliances. A consultation by the Communities and Local Government department which covers precisely this issue - and to which we have responded - closed yesterday.
As part of that exercise the government asked for views on whether or not our campaign demand to change part J of the building regulations should be implemented. The impact assessment which accompanies the consultation reveals the annual net benefit of installing carbon monoxide alarms is £70 million. Most of this would come from a likely reduction in deaths and illness caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Currently 50
people die and 200 fall ill each year.
This evidence is hard to refute. Yet the CLG consultation plays down the potential benefits of the alarm, suggesting their five-to-six-year lifespans might be too short to protect people against appliances which develop faults beyond this - a valid point, but surely no reason to not install them at all?
The death of Elouise Littlewood from carbon monoxide poisoning in a brand new flat in West London in February 2008 definitely proves that.
Inside Housing is running a campaign calling for action to stop preventable deaths from gas and fire. For more on this see our Safe as Houses campaign page.