Slow start to spending Waking Watch Relief Fund

Figures released by the Housing Ministry show only twelve per cent of new applications for the Waking Watch Relief Fund have been successful so far.

The funding window for second round applications closed on 24 June, as the Housing Ministry tried to exhaust its £30 million fund to replace costly waking watches with alarm systems in buildings waiting for cladding remediation.

The data published by the Ministry on 15 July comes with some caveats as the Greater London Authority, one of the bodies helping to distribute the cash, has not finished all its assessment work. Even with the uncertainty in the figures, the overall fund is currently showing as only half committed, with around 20 per cent of all applications already rejected.

Three cities outside of London - Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham - have received the highest levels of funding approvals totaling £5.3 million.

The Ministry’s data release shows the cost per dwelling per month of having a waking watch ranges from £77 - £110 outside London, but with data quality problems and ongoing assessment, these figures need to be treated with high levels of caution. The Ministry says that it will update the data 'regularly'.

The Waking Watch Relief Fund was launched in January 2021 and covers the costs of installing a common alarm system instead of paying for a waking watch to be on site.

To be eligible a building must:

  • be in the private sector
  • be over 17.70 metres in height
  • have an unsafe cladding system
  • have a waking watch in place where these costs have been passed on to leaseholders

The fund was established to pay for the reasonable upfront capital costs of installing an alarm system designed in accordance with the recommendations of BS 5839-1 for a Category L5 system. The government guidance suggests that the alarm system be capable of upgrade to a BS 8629 emergency evacuation alert system once remediation is complete.