Scotland: 100 million reduction in cost burden promised
as "relaxed" Guidance is put out for consultation

For detail go to our Scotland page

New fire safety guidance is set to reduce the cost burden on Scotland's estimated 7,000 B&B and self catering businesses by an average of 14,286 each - a total reduction in the cost burden on small accommodation businesses in Scotland of 100 million, on the Scottish Government's own figures.

The Fire Safety SENSE Campaign and others had raised concerns with the Scottish Government that previous fire safety requirements were complex and prohibitively expensive. The new guidance developed to "directly address these concerns" will "maintain fire safety levels while reducing the average investment in safety equipment by over 90 per cent".

The new guidance will also ensure that all fire safety requirements are now applied "consistently as well as proportionately to the size of property".

Fire Safety SENSE Campaign head David Weston commented: "I am delighted that the Scottish Government has been so responsive to the concerns our Campaign has highlighted. The average compliance cost for each B&B before the new guidance was 15,376, a crippling cost for very small home-based family businesses. We welcome the Scottish Government's seeing sense and cutting this unnecessary 100 million burden."

England & Wales: Encouraging Signs on Enforcement
as "Do You Have Paying Guests?" Guidance is Absorbed by Fire Authorities

For detail go to our Latest Guidance page

There are some encouraging signs that the latest Government guidance for small accommodation providers is beginning to change enforcement practice by Fire Authorities.

The latest guidance, distributed in early 2009, was produced with the involvement of the Bed and Breakfast Association and other industry bodies, and was published officially by the Government on 18 November 2008, backed up by an official Government Circular (number 60-2008) to the Fire and Rescue Authorities.

The Fire Safety Minister certainly intends local enforcement to change. The Minister, referring to the new guidance booklet ("Do You Have Paying Guests?"), said: "The booklet has, through CFOA [Chief Fire Officers' Association] involvement, the support of the Chief Fire Officers throughout England. It is our belief that this booklet will help embed a practical, common sense approach to the enforcement of the [RRFSO regulations] by Fire and Rescue Authorities".

After the involvement of the industry bodies behind this Campaign in its drafting, "Do You Have Paying Guests?" is much more helpful to owners of B&Bs and other small premises than previous official Government guidance.

And now we have heard of instances where Fire & Rescue Authorities are making the changes in their enforcement which the Government requires - for instance, Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service wrote to a B&B owner in January 2009 stating: "The fire safety guidance for small accommodation providers has recently been reviewed and a new guidance document was issued on 18th November 2008 titled 'Do You Have Paying Guests?'... The impact of this new guidance has let to a review of existing [Enforcement] notices issued under the previous guidance to such premises. In the light of the work [the Suffolk B&B concerned had] already carried out coupled with the reduced standard in the new guidance it is felt that there remains minor deficiencies such that your management approach reduces the risk to a level that does not require any further action from this authority. The existing [Enforcement] notice is to be withdrawn and replaced by a deficiencies notice that can be managed by [the B&B owner], in line with the new government guidance."

The Campaign hopes that this and other such recent examples mark a real shift in the way the RRFSO is being Enforced in England - if so, the work done by the organisations behind the Fire Safety SENSE Campaign will have achieved a genuine reduction in the disproportionate burden of enforcement seen in the first two years of enforcement.

For details, go to our Latest Guidance page.

Do You Have Paying Guests?
Above: the new (November 2008) guidance booklet about the regulations, for small accommodation providers (eg B&B owners).

Scotland - Enforcement on Small B&Bs Put on Hold

In Scotland, enforcement action against small B&Bs was put on hold on 19th December by the Scottish Government, which admitted that enforcement action so far has resulted in "expensive and unnecessary fire safety measures being put in place which are not proportionate to the risks". In Westminster, however, the Fire Safety Minister has called for "more evidence" of closures of small businesses due to the same disproportionate enforcement action in England and Wales. For details, see our news page.

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The RRFSO - click here to open the full online wording in a new window
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the "RRFSO"), which came into force in England and Wales on 1st October 2006. Click on the above cover image to open the full online wording in a new window.