Scottish Government releases analysis of consultation on fire and smoke alarms
Blog by David Stewart, SFHA Policy Lead
Yesterday, the Scottish Government released its analysis of the consultation on fire and smoke alarms. The SFHA responded to the consultation, after consulting widely with our members on this important issue, and we have cautiously welcomed the Scottish Government’s response.
We welcome the fact that the fire and smoke alarms standards in social rented homes will be brought up to the same standard as those in the private sector. Housing associations pride themselves in providing quality affordable homes of a high standard, and our members agreed with proposals to upgrade the standard for the social sector to the slightly higher standard that exists in the private rented sector. We were reassured by the good working relationships that housing associations have with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and by the preventative work that associations undertake, including encouraging tenants to have home visits from fire prevention officers and undertaking regular inspections of multi storeys and sheltered accommodation.
We are also pleased to see that the standard will apply to homes of all tenures, including owner occupiers. This provides a level of safety for all and reduces the risk of undetected fires spreading to adjacent buildings.
We are concerned, however, over the timescale set for implementing the new standards. In our response, the SFHA asked for five-years for housing associations to bring all homes up to the new standard, and we feel this is a reasonable timescale, given that all association homes already have fire and smoke alarms and the proposed two-year timescale will lead to considerable costs for landlords to upgrade systems over a short timescale. The cost of upgrading to the new standards will have to be met from associations’ own resources and this comes at a time when associations are investing in supporting tenants through welfare reform, investing to meet the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing, increasing borrowing to develop 50,000 affordable homes, and working to support health and social care integration. While all of these pieces of work are essential to meeting need and supporting tenants, they all have cost implications. We therefore believe that landlords should be given five years to upgrade to the new standard and will continue to make this case.