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Campaigners fight to save lives and protect £0.5bn public money

Campaigners fight to save lives and  protect £0.5bn public money

Gas Access logoA GAS safety campaign has been launched to protect families and save nearly £0.5bn.

Campaigners are calling on the Government to beef up legal powers to allow regulated social landlords to access properties to carry out mandatory gas safety checks.

Home Group, one of the UK’s largest social housing providers is working with the Association of Gas Safety Managers (AGSM), to launch its Gas Access campaign to stop tenants playing ‘Russian roulette’ with their and their neighbours’ lives by refusing access to gas safety engineers.

The Law rightly requires all landlords to carry out annual safety checks on any properties they own which have gas supplies. But, while Local Authorities can get same-day court orders to force entry to properties where tenants refuse access to gas engineers, it can take up to four months for social housing providers to gain access.

Home Group, which manages 55,000 homes across 200 local authorities in the UK, is working with CORGI Technical Services, the UK’s most trusted gas safety provider, and the AGSM, whose members service 2m social homes, to call for a change in the law to give regulated landlords the same timely access as their local authority counterparts.

New data released today shows that the delays caused by 14,500 tenants who refuse access to properties costs housing providers £493,690,890 over a 10-year period.

Mark Henderson, chief executive at Home Group, has issued a stark warning: "Current legislation is dangerous and expensive. This has to change now. It is far too difficult for registered and responsible social landlords to gain access to their properties to allow qualified inspectors the time to make appropriate health checks and the requisite servicing of boilers.

Without being allowed to make those checks, lives are being put at risk - not just the lives of the people in these properties, but the lives of their neighbours too. All we ask is that social landlords be given the same timely access as our colleagues at Local Authorities."

Home Group, the only housing association to be created by Act of Parliament, is regulated by the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency. The Gas Access campaign has set up a petition and a dedicated campaign website to generate UK-wide support to encourage the Government to adapt existing legislation to allow quicker access to properties.

Specifically, it calls for an amendment to the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 to insert specific rights of entry that would be granted by the Courts if all reasonable access attempts had been made. (see here for the full wording of the proposed change in regulations).

Claire Heyes, Chief Executive of the AGSM said: "Now is the time for action. Working collaboratively across the industry, we are demanding change for all the right reasons – safety, strong governance and responsibility in the spending of public money. Home Group has taken a firm stance on this and together we are putting ‘rights of access’ under the political spotlight and calling for change. Over two million housing association homes are impacted by the current burdensome system – the cost of this is staggering.

"The existing framework does not deliver value for money and safety is being compromised. We will be putting forward a range of measures to bring gas safety management issues up to date so that they are fit for purpose."

To find out more about the campaign, visit www.gasaccesscampaign.org or follow @gasaccess on Twitter using #gasaccesscampaign.