Publication - Impact assessment

Fire safety in high rise domestic buildings: equality impact assessment

Published: 4 Dec 2019

Results of the equality impact assessment into strengthening fire safety for domestic high rise property.

9 page PDF

216.0 kB

9 page PDF

216.0 kB

Contents
Fire safety in high rise domestic buildings: equality impact assessment
Equality Impact Assessment - Results

9 page PDF

216.0 kB

Equality Impact Assessment - Results

Title Of Policy

Strengthening Fire Safety for Domestic High Rise Property

Summary of aims and desired outcomes of Policy

The aim is to strengthen fire safety in high rise buildings, to prevent fires and minimise the impact of fires that happen

Directorate: Division: team

Safer Communities: Fire and Rescue Unit

1. Executive Summary

1.1 Following the fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, the Scottish Government Ministerial Working Group (MWG) on Building and Fire Safety commissioned three reviews including the Review of the Fire Safety Regime in Scotland for High Rise Domestic Property. Whilst it concluded there were no gaps in legislation it made 5 Recommendations to strengthen fire safety in high rise domestic properties.

This Equality Impact Assessment is for 5 Recommendations from the Review:

I. Specific fire safety information aimed at all residents of high rise domestic buildings.

II. Introduction of Scottish Guidance concerning Fire safety in high Rise Domestic Buildings.

III. Introduction of Scottish guidance concerning Fire Risk Assessments.

IV. A consistent position regarding the storage, removal and enforced prohibition of combustible materials in common areas to be devised and agreed by all relevant stakeholders ("combustibles framework").

V. A fire safety campaign relative to common areas.

1.2 The intention of producing information for residents and a single source of Guidance covering fire safety and fire safety risk assessment is to strengthen fire safety in high rise buildings; to prevent fires and minimise the impact of fires that happen.

1.3 Discussions to inform the EQIA were had with internal Scottish Government Officials. A public consultation between April and July 2019 included a specific question on equality impacts and survey data was analysed according to protected characteristics where possible.

1.4 As part of the EQIA process, the Scottish Government has considered the potential impacts of the guidance on people with one or more protected characteristics. The EQIA concluded that the implementation of the Recommendations is neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory on the basis of age, disability, sex, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, and marriage and civil partnership. No mitigating action is therefore required.

1.5 The EQIA did identify positive outcomes of the implementation of the Recommendations for some protected groups, more specifically age and disability.

Age

1.6 There is evidence that older people are at higher risk of fire than the general population. There is a higher proportion of residents aged 65+ living in high rise buildings.

Disability

1.7 There is evidence that people with certain disabilities (including mobility, sensory or cognitive impairment) are at higher risk of fire than the general population. There is a higher proportion of high rise residents that have at least one member who is long term sick or disabled than in the rest of Scotland.

1.8 It is recognised in the Guidance that the charging and storage of mobility scooters can be an issue that may affect some disabled people, but advises that arrangements should not be allowed to negatively impact on fire safety.

1.9 Strengthening fire safety, with information, Guidance and a campaign will mainly particularly benefit older and disabled people with mobility and other issues and will contribute to improving equality in fire safety.

2. Background

Following the fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, the Scottish Government established a Ministerial Working Group (MWG) to review building and fire safety regulatory frameworks. The Review of the Fire Safety Regime in Scotland for High Rise Domestic Property (the Review) was one of three MWG Reviews. This Review found there were no gaps in Scottish legislation but made recommendations to strengthen fire safety for those who live in high rise domestic properties in Scotland:

Policy Aims and Objectives

2.1 The three key objectives to strengthen fire safety in high rise domestic buildings are;

i. To develop Fire Safety Information for people who live in high rise domestic buildings to improve knowledge, understanding and responsibilities for fire safety and positively influence behaviour. This is not new information but will clarify, refresh and improve accessibility of existing information.

ii. To ensure that those responsible for the fire safety of high rise domestic buildings are aware of the best action to take by providing consistent, easily accessible Guidance on fire safety and fire safety risk assessment.

iii. To improve fire safety by supporting action to ensure common areas are kept clear of items that are a fire risk or can block access/egress to a building.

2.2 It is envisaged that all the recommendations should be implemented by early 2020.

2.3 This contributes to the Scottish Government's National outcomes:

We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe

And the Justice Vision priorities:

We will enable our communities to be safe and supportive, where individuals exercise their rights and responsibilities

3. Who was involved in this EQIA

The Review of Fire Safety in Scotland involved a range of organisations and individuals to draw on their wealth of knowledge and experience. The Review Team comprised the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate (HMFSI) and Scottish Government Officials from:

  • Fire and Rescue Unit, Safer Communities
  • Better Homes, Building and Fire Safety
  • Legal Division

An Advisory Group was formed with external organisations:

  • COSLA
  • Social and private housing providers
  • Representative organisations
  • Chartered Institute of Housing
  • Fire Brigades Union

The Review Team also consulted with the Tenants and Residents Panel.

3.1 A public consultation on four of the Recommendations (1, 2, 3 and 5) was held between April – September 2019. Seventy people responded to the consultation. Exactly half the respondents were individuals and half were from organisations. Organisations that responded included:

  • Individuals renting properties
  • Local Authorities
  • Individual owner occupiers
  • Tenants and residents' associations/networks
  • Housing groups
  • Fire safety/protection companies
  • Insurance companies

3.2 Question 47 of the consultation asked respondents to "give information and your views on impacts on groups with protected characteristics as noted above, that implementation of the Fire Safety in High Rise Domestic Buildings guidance might have." There were 15 responses to this question; 2 individual and 13 from organisations.

3.3 In the response to the consultation question on the EQIA, some organisations responded that the Guidance would not negatively impact these protected groups, especially if it took account of their needs and was applied correctly. One organisation highlighted that everyone should be treated equally unless their disability impacts on their fire. Another organisation mentioned that high rise domestic buildings accommodate a range of people from differing backgrounds and that Guidance and information for residents should provide support for all residents. They also raised the issue of communication with residents whose first language is not English.

3.4 Statistical analysis of the Scottish House Condition Survey 2015 – 2017 (SHCS) provided figures for residents of high rise dwellings in relation to age, long term sickness, disability and sex.

3.5 Three consultation engagement events were held with residents, tenants and those responsible for fire safety in high rise domestic buildings to come and share their views and discuss the best methods to deliver:

  • fire safety information to residents
  • the campaign in relation to combustible materials in common areas
  • the technical guidance provided for those responsible for fire safety in high rise domestic buildings.

Whilst not asked about equality impacts directly, some attendees were from groups with protected characteristics of age and sex. Members of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) also participated.

4. Scope of EQIA

4.1 The implementation of all the Recommendations is intended to have a positive effect for the residents of these buildings, including those with protected characteristics. The overall aim is to strengthen existing guidance and best practice, making it more readily available and user friendly and result in those living in high rise domestic buildings being more informed on fire safety and being and feeling safer from fire.

4.2 For those who are responsible for fire safety, implementation of the Recommendations will support them to be clearer and more informed on their responsibilities and duties for their buildings and the people who live there.

What might prevent the desired outcomes being achieved?

4.3 The aim is to reduce fires and their impact in high rise domestic buildings in Scotland.

4.4 The risk that residents and those responsible for implementing the Fire Safety Guidance fail to understand and act on the fire safety information and Guidance was identified at an early stage. The consultation and engagement events focused on ensuring the fire safety materials are accessible and easy to understand and support behaviour change.

4.5 The Review recognised that there are issues around enforcement and the clarification on responsibility in high rise domestic buildings with multiple owners and mixed tenure. It was agreed that issuing non-statutory best practice guidance, developed in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, provides a short term solution to issues that have been identified. If this voluntary approach is insufficient, formal duties may need to be established which would require new legislation. The monitoring and evaluation of this guidance will inform this further.

5. Key Findings

5.1 The Guidance, information for residents, combustibles framework and common areas campaign will impact positively in strengthening fire safety, including for people with protected characteristics. We have specifically developed information for residents that is accessible in content and medium as general good practice and to support effective communication with older and disabled people and people in areas of multiple deprivation. It will also be delivered in hard copy and on-line so users can access it in their preferred format. Residents will be able to request information in different formats and languages and requests will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

5.2 There will be overall positive impacts for people with the following mentioned characteristics.

Disability

5.3 In high rise buildings, there is a higher proportion of households with at least one member who is long term sick or disabled (LTSD) than in the rest of Scotland (47% compared to 44%), according to the Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census: Part 2 (Published: March 2015). Households with no one who is LTSD are slightly less likely to live in dwellings which are part of a tower/slab exceeding 5 storeys (5% versus 2%). We are not aware of any evidence which can be analysed for the type of disability or long term illness for residents.

5.4 The Guidance covers the safe storage and charging of mobility scooters that can be an issue for some disabled people, whilst ensuring arrangements do not compromise fire safety.

Sex

5.5 There is a higher percentage of women than men in this dwelling type than in the general population (43% to 41%).

Age

5.6 Data indicates that small households with at least one resident aged 65 and over make up almost a third of all high rise occupancy (31%) and with an indication this is higher than in other dwelling types.

5.7 The Guidance on fire safety and fire safety risk assessment and improvement to common areas will strengthen fire safety for all residents in high rise domestic buildings so will particularly benefit older and disabled people and women in addition to all high rise residents as there is a higher proportion of people with these characteristics.

5.8 An analysis by other protected characteristics was not possible as the data set was either not collected or else the sample size was too small to report upon. Given all residents will benefit from improved fire safety, as far as we can assess, in addition to those identified previously, this will include people with the following protected characteristics:

  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership

Extent/Level of EQIA required

5.9 We do not believe that there is sufficient evidence or requirement for an in depth EQIA as the impact on those who identify as having one or more of the protected characteristics will only be positive.

6. Recommendations and Conclusion

Have positive or negative impacts been identified for any of the equality groups?

Positive impacts for all equality groups, specifically females, older people and

disabled people. No negative impacts have been identified for any of the equality groups.

Is the policy directly or indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010[1]?

There is no evidence that the information for residents, campaign, Guidance and

combustibles framework is directly or indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010.

If the policy is indirectly discriminatory, how is it justified under the relevant legislation?

If not justified, what mitigating action will be undertaken?

Describing how Equality Impact analysis has shaped the policy making process

6.1 The Equality Impact Analysis has provided a framework to understand the requirements of residents and produce accessible information.

6.2 The main costs are development, production and delivery of leaflets on fire safety information for residents to ensure accessible, effective information. This is to achieve the overall aim of the project including effective information for people with protected characteristics.

Monitoring and Review

6.3 A monitoring and evaluation plan is being developed with Analytical colleagues. Relevant equalities issues, such as reducing fire risk and impact among older and disabled people will be considered for this.

6.4 The EQIA concluded that the introduction of the Guidance is neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory on the basis of age, disability, sex, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, and marriage and civil partnership. No mitigating action is therefore required.

Please note:

The SHCS does not have 'High Rise' as a dwelling classification matching the definition as set out in the Review of the Scottish Fire Safety Regime for Domestic High Rise Property and the High Rise Inventory (i.e. greater than 18m or 6 storeys) but does have 'Common block exceeding 5 storeys' as a classification and therefore this was used to provide approximate commentary.

The high rise inventory confirmed that there are approximately 44,400 households in high rise domestic buildings in Scotland with the greater than 18m or 6 storey definition. The Common block exceeding 5 storeys definition used for analysis from the SHCS returned 68,000 households. This discrepancy is found within the difference of definitions therefore again this data can only be used as indicative.

Declaration

I am satisfied with the equality impact assessment that has been undertaken for Strengthening Fire Safety for Domestic High Rise Property and give my authorisation for the results of this assessment to be published on the Scottish Government's website.

Name: Wendy Wilkinson

Position: Deputy Director, Safer Communities Division

Authorisation date: November 2019


Contact

Email: FireDivision@gov.scot