Hackney Council says fire risk assessment contractors have hiked fees since Grenfell and bill is now £900k a year

Burbage House, where Islington and South Hackney Housing Association still needs to replace the clad

Burbage House, where Islington and South Hackney Housing Association still needs to replace the cladding. Picture: Emma Bartholomew - Credit: Emma Bartholomew

Hackney Council wants to start doing its own fire risk assessments – because private firms have hiked their fees since the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Town hall chiefs have published a report following a wide-scale review of fire safety commissioned in the wake of the blaze that killed 71 people in June.

Experts carried out 1,823 fire risk assessments (FRAs) and found 21,743 issues. Some 2,968 of those were deemed “high priority” and 11 were labelled “critical” and have now been fixed.

In the report, set to go to Hackney Council’s cabinet on Monday, officers said there were plans to bring the FRAs programme back in house. Historically the assessments have been done by private firms, and last year the contract was worth £450,000.

But in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, the report states it can now cost as much as £2.7million for a three-year contract – £900,000 a year.

It reads: “Since Grenfell fire, the cost of procuring FRA services has risen dramatically – the potential cost of delivering a three-year FRA programme has risen to £2.7m. This compares with the programme last year which cost £450k.

“We are therefore in the process of looking at the potential for bringing the programme in-house.”

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The council says the rise in cost is also partly down to a change in its approach. It wants to change FRAs from the current “one-size fits all” method, which involves simply looking at communal areas of blocks and examining 10 per cent of flat doors.

Four new categories of assessment have been created and going forward the baseline checks will be a Type 3 inspection, which involves inspectors going into some flats for internal monitoring.

A town hall spokesman told the Gazette: “Given the expertise needed, and the increased demand since the Grenfell tragedy, there has been an increase in cost of FRAs.

“The rise in cost also reflects the switch in the type of fire risk assessment which will be carried out.

“The Type 3 is more in-depth, involving a visual inspection of the communal areas of a building and a proportion of residents’ flats, as well as a non-destructive inspection of the fire resistance of doors within flats.”