Building Safety: Announcement of further Waking Watch Replacement Fund for 2023

6 minute read
08 June 2023

The Government has announced a new £18.6 million Waking Watch Replacement Fund for 2023 (WWRF 2023). This is a separate fund, which builds on the work of the Waking Watch Replacement Fund set up in January 2022 (WWRF 2022), and the Waking Watch Relief Fund that was originally established in 2020 (described below).

The aim of the WWRF 2023 is to fund the installation of alarms and replacement of costly waking watch measures in all residential buildings in England where a waking watch is currently in place.

In this article, we briefly summarise the background to the funds and provide some further detail on the eligibility criteria and scope of the WWRF 2023.


Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, as it emerged that many high-rise residential buildings had similar unsafe cladding, waking watches began to be put in place to enable residents to stay in their homes in relative safety until remediation works could be carried out. The Simultaneous Evacuation Guidance (SEG) issued by the National Fire Chiefs' Council (NFCC) defines a waking watch as a "system whereby suitably trained persons continually patrol the necessary areas of the building and the exterior perimeter in order to detect a fire, raise the alarm, and alert the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS)".

However, waking watches are only intended to be used as an interim measure. According to the SEG, a waking watch should only be used in the "immediate or transitional term" and remedial work should be progressed as quickly as possible, or alternative permanent sustainable solutions such as common fire alarms should be implemented.

In light of this, and in order to protect leaseholders from costly waking watch measures and fund the installation of common fire alarm systems in line with the SEG, the £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund was announced on 17 December 2020. This focused on high-rise residential buildings (above 17.7 metres) with unsafe cladding, where waking watches were in place at cost to leaseholders. Due to demand, the fund was extended by a further £5 million in September 2021 before closing in December 2021.

The £27 million WWRF 2022 was launched in January 2022, with the same aims as the original fund, but expanding eligibility to all residential buildings with a waking watch where costs were being passed on to leaseholders irrespective of height.

WWRF 2023

The new WWRF 2023 has now been launched to further the same aims, and in light of the Government's observation (as noted in the full fund application guidance for the WWRF 2023) that waking watches continue to remain in place "in too many buildings and for too long".

The WWRF 2023 expands the financial support to a wider range of residential buildings (including student accommodation). Residential buildings of any height, with a waking watch in place "due to any fire safety defect" and regardless of where the costs of waking watch fall, may be eligible – subject to the conditions below.

Eligibility requirements for the WWRF 2023

The WWRF 2023's eligibility requirements are that:

  • the building must be located in England;
  • the building must be a residential building – which includes student accommodation but excludes hotels;
  • the building must have a waking watch in place;
  • The installation of an alarm in the building must be sufficient (when combined with any other remediation measures notified as part of the application) to remove the need for the waking watch, save for in exceptional circumstances involving high risk buildings as may be approved at the discretion of the Secretary of State (and in which case the circumstances should be described fully in the application, with supporting evidence);
  • The proposed alarm must meet the required standard, i.e. it should be designed in accordance with the recommendations of BS 5839-1 for a Category L5 system – in line with the guidance set out in the SEG;
  • The costs must be reasonable – three quotes from different alarm installation companies will be required, and applicants must specify their preferred supplier with reasons; and
  • The building must not have received the benefit of funds from and must not be the subject of an application to the Waking Watch Relief Fund or the WWRF 2022.

Applications to the WWRF 2023 opened on 25 May 2023, and the fund will cover the cost of alarms where installation work commenced on or after 25 May 2023.

If you have any questions about this, please get in touch with Sue Ryan, Gemma Whittaker or Sean Garbutt.

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