Government urged to provide mandatory electrical checks for tower block homes


A charity has urged the Government to provide free mandatory electrical checks for homes in tower blocks in light of confirmation that a fridge-freezer was the initial cause of the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Electrical Safety First (ESF) said 1,873 fires were caused by domestic electrical white goods such as dishwashers and fridge-freezers in England last year, the equivalent of more than five a day.

Scotland Yard confirmed in the days after the Grenfell Tower disaster that the fire started in a faulty Hotpoint fridge-freezer.

ESF has written to consumer minister Margot James calling for a new policy to give housing associations and local authorities legal responsibility for ensuring free mandatory safety checks to include fixed electrical installations and appliances in each home.

They should also keep a register of white goods in the blocks, regardless of tenure of the property, and ensure tenants have registered their product, the letter says.

It noted that current Government policy says there is an "expectation" on landlords to keep electrical installations safe, but said this could mean that electrics and appliances in social rented properties could go unchecked for years.

ESF said its initial estimate of the cost of such a policy fell between £48 million and £60 million every five years.

ESF technical director Martyn Allen said: "We have seen the risks that electrical appliances pose in tower blocks such as Lakanal House, Shepherd's Court and of course Grenfell Tower.

"Tenants have the right to live in a home that has a safe electrical installation and appliances supplied by the landlord.

"We believe that first and foremost, those living in densely populated areas like tower blocks must be protected. As a result we would like to see Government implement mandatory safety checks as a matter of urgency."

A Government spokeswoman said: "Public safety is a top priority for government. That's why in October 2016 we established the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety.

"Electrical Safety First is part of this working group. The Consumer Minister asked the working group to consider further issues around product safety in light of the Grenfell fire and the Government will respond in due course."