Camden Council responds to Social Housing Regulatory Notice

Camden Council has responded to the issuing of a Regulatory Notice by the Regulator of Social Housing. The Council has detailed its extensive programme of fire safety works under way, which will address the Regulator’s findings and deliver the highest standard of safety for residents.

Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council

There is nothing more important than the safety of our residents and we are taking this notice very seriously.

Six years ago, I said fire safety was our first priority and that we would invest in a new era of resident safety. We have done exactly that. We are investing more than £200 million in a wide range of safety improvements; we’ve published all fire risk assessments (FRAs) and carried out more than 40,000 individual safety improvements and repairs. 

But we know that there is still more work to be done to complete all remaining higher risk actions, along with all other lower risk actions. A programme of work is in place for delivery this year and next. 

I won’t be content until every action is complete and that’s what our teams are working on delivering right now. We recognise that many of the remaining actions outlined by the Regulator are difficult for residents, such as the removal of security grilles. We will be working alongside residents to complete these. 

Our focus has been on meeting the standards required by FRAs, but we also want to get to an even higher standard across the board, a standard of excellent housing that our residents deserve. 

To do this we need Government to back us after years of underinvestment nationally in council housing. This includes direct cuts to rental income. We want every resident to live in a safe, damp-free, high-quality home. We won’t wait for Government to act, rather we will continue to push our stretched resources to focus on even faster action to keep residents safe.

Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council

Camden Council has made a clear and public commitment to achieving the highest standard of resident safety and, since 2017, has invested significantly in improving the safety of its housing. 

The comprehensive programme of fire safety works includes key practical measures such as: 

  • Ensuring homes have appropriate fire doors, emergency lighting, fire alarms, and fire stopping 
  • Ongoing gas safety checks in more than 13,000 homes 
  • Regular electrical testing in 23,000 homes 
  • Regular fire risk assessments in over 3,200 buildings, with high-risk blocks assessed on an annual basis - Camden has completed over 40,000 fire safety actions since 2020
  • Fire alarm testing and communal area checks four times a year in our street properties, with regular health and safety inspections by our caretakers on estates 
  • Working with residents to remove combustible items

In July 2021 the Council introduced its Fire and Building Safety Charter which guides this work. The Council appointed a dedicated fire and building safety team which is led by our Head of Resident & Building Safety, who is also Chair of the London Councils Fire Safety Group. 

The Council’s Fire Safety and Compliance Advisory Panel is co-chaired by a resident representative and the Cabinet Member for Better Homes, and is attended by the London Fire Brigade, resident representatives, senior officers, and is open to elected members of all parties. It is held in public, is also webcast, and receives formal reports. 

Camden is an active participant on the Early Adopter groups set up by Government and the Health & Safety Executive to develop best practice and shape regulations in relation to Fire and Building Safety.

Following the Regulator’s report and advice, Camden is further boosting its current action by: 

  • Introducing monthly reporting to members of the Housing Scrutiny Committee and Fire Safety and Compliance Advisory Panel which we will publish on the council website
  • Detailed updates each quarter to our Fire Safety and Compliance Advisory Panel 
  • Strengthening existing processes so we can address all high-risk actions within their recommended timescales 
  • Working to engage with residents and find new ways to improve access to homes (currently we are finding it difficult to access up to 40% of homes to apply our smoke detector programme), this includes a new universal key system for our street property communal areas so we can keep everyone safe.