Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans: The Government’s Disappointing Response

21 June 2022

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans: The Government’s Disappointing Response
Published on 13th June, the Government’s reply to the consultation on Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) for high-rise residential buildings fails to make any legislative requirements for disabled people to be provided with PEEPs. The Government has neglected to ensure the safe evacuation of disabled residents.
 
Sarah Rennie, an adult living with SMA, shared her concerns and raised awareness of the issues in a recent interview with the BBC: 
 
 
Sarah has also launched a petition (read more below).

The government response to the Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) original consultation ran from 8th June to 19th July 2021.

In summary, the recommendations were that:

  • The owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required to prepare PEEPs for all residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised.
     
  • Up-to-date information about these persons and their associated PEEPs should be kept within a Premises Information Box.

The consultation process, which closed in July last year, included proposals to implement these recommendations.

The position of central Government is that, despite widespread support for PEEPs and the proposals outlined, there remain significant issues in implementing them in respect of the three requirements for practicality, proportionality and safety.

In particular, the Government’s response has noted that:

  • “…general needs residential high-rise blocks will not always have staff in situ to support evacuation. In those cases where there are staff, it was clear that these individuals will generally be few in number, not full-time and not qualified for the purposes of evacuating residents”
     
  • “…the evidence base for PEEPs is not sufficient to mandate their implementation in high-rise residential buildings at this stage”
     
  • “…mandating PEEPs as described in the consultation at this time could in fact have a detrimental effect on those with certain protected characteristics”
     
  • “…compelling ‘Responsible Persons’ to administer PEEPs at this point could prove counterproductive because it could increase the risks posed to vulnerable people”

The consultation did consider proposals that PEEPs could be implemented by neighbours and friends. However, the consultation response had concerns about the implementation, including a possibility that the good intentions of those who were willing to volunteer could increase the risks posed to those whom the PEEPs were intended to help, as well as the volunteers themselves.
 

What Next?

As a next step, the Government has launched a new consultation on alternative proposals to support the fire safety of residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised. It closes 10th August 2022.

From this new consultation, it would seem that the Government has not closed its mind to PEEPs but has been unable to identify any means for their provision that meet the test of practicality, proportionality and safety.

Following the government response, Sarah Rennie, an adult living with SMA, has launched a petition.

Sarah says: “Finding accessible homes when you live with SMA is hard enough, as well managing the challenges of independent living. To find out that if a fire broke out in your block it would engulf the building in minutes, but the Government won’t allow us to have evacuation plans like non-disabled people, is both terrifying and unacceptable. This is why we have launched a legal claim against the Home Office. Please sign and share our petition to show your support."