“Please be proactive”

agsmMembers of the Association of Gas Safety Managers (AGSM) have fought back strongly in response to the comments by Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, last week that further powers are not needed for housing providers to allow them to gain access to properties to carry out statutory gas safety checks.

In a survey of AGSM members, who collectively are responsible for two million social housing properties in the UK, strong views were expressed by the people who see first-hand the waste involved in trying to gain access to properties.

The Gas Access Campaign, which is being led by the AGSM, CORGI Technical Services and the Home Group, is calling for changes to legislation to allow easier access to properties to carry out annual safety checks. The campaign calculates that currently around £50 million a year in public money is being wasted by housing providers who are forced to go to great lengths to gain access to properties to carry out gas safety checks within the legal 12-month period – resulting in a huge financial burden.

Dave Horrocks, heating and mechanical manager at Eastlands Homes, said: “I’m absolutely flabbergasted at the decision by the government. Gaining access to properties is costing social housing providers significant sums of money and putting some of the most vulnerable people in society in danger. The neighbours of people failing to give access are being put at risk. I would like to urge the Minister to meet with the AGSM and the Gas Access Campaign so that he can see the whole picture and understand the issues.”

Gareth Davey, quality and compliance manager at North Lincolnshire Homes, said: “The dismissive comments from the Housing Minister are disappointing and surely born out of ignorance to the facts. Housing associations across the country know that ‘access’ is a very real issue. Not only is public health being put at risk, but vast amounts of money are currently being wasted year-after-year, and the AGSM has the statistics to prove this. The question should be what can we do to solve this problem? I hope that Mr Lewis acknowledges this problem and takes the opportunity to become part of the solution by listening to the AGSM/Gas Access Campaigns proposals.”

Gas safety campaigners are calling for a meeting with Brandon Lewis, to help him fully understand the unnecessary wasted millions spent on gaining access to homes.

The call comes after the Minister revealed that the Department of Communities and Local Government hasn’t carried out any research into the costs to housing associations who are forced to secure court orders as a last resort to gain access to a property to carry out annual gas safety checks.

At present it can take as long as four months for social landlords to gain legal access. The campaign is lobbying for a change in the law, which would allow legal access within 24 hours – the time taken for local authorities to gain access.

Sophie Tuffin, building services surveyor at Raglan Housing, said: “This doesn’t seem a logical or forward thinking decision by the minister. Large amounts of time, money and effort go into gaining access to properties within social housing where safety is the main driver. The current process is arduous and does not take into account the safety of other residents or members of the public where a small minority fail to allow access. The Gas Access Campaign looks to make a positive change to this process, so I fail to see that this or the current problems of non-access has been fully understood.”

Claire Heyes, CEO of the AGSM, said: “Our members have said

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