Social Housing

What's the problem?

Social housing is an important aspect of many peoples' lives with 76,000 new social lettings in the first 6 months of 2020/211 - and a total share of 17% of homes across England alone. The rest of the UK has an even higher percentile of social housing; showing a clear need for affordable, accessible homes.

However while the importance of social housing creation continues to increase, what is less considered is the risk of both new and existing social housing being damaged by an escape of water, or being unsuitable for potential tenants due to accessibility requirements.

A traditional brass stopcock suffers from two main issues:

  1. 1. The brass construction of these stopcocks often results in a build-up of limescale, seizing the tap and making it almost impossible to turn.

  2. 2. These victorian-era devices are often built into the structure of the house before fixtures are put in place; so end up being under appliances, behind cupboards, or even beneath the floorboards in some cases!

What are the impacts of this?

The impacts of these two issues are as numerous as they are damaging. With any escape of water time is of the essence. A leak running for a few minutes can cause some minor soaking that can usually be dried up with a towel and expedience. A leak running for a few hours on the other hand can flood rooms, soak through possessions, and creep into the structure of a property causing rot and mould to develop.

If there is an escape of water and the stopcock is seized up entirely, it can be hours or even days before the stopcock can be loosened and the water turned off. Knowing how to access your stopcock is almost as important as being able to turn it off - many people simply do not know where their stopcock is or don't know how they would get to it. In some instances the stopcock is buried under a floorboard in hallways, or kitchen design has it placed behind heavy appliances.

These locations being out of sight and difficult to access could mean hours before the stopcock can be accessed even - and again this adds up to the scale of damage. Even then, the stopcock in these locations is very often seized - so the problem grows.

The Association of British Insurers state that water damage is by far the most common cause of claims for households - around £1.8 million per day is paid out in water escape claims. This gives an impression of the scale of damage that can occur from an escape of water - and insurers have responded to this by increasing the excesses on water damage, which brings some of the cost back around to policyholders.

For social housing participants of any kind water damage can carry significant risk:

  • In the construction industry, the most common risk to new builds is water damage; and excesses can be up to £100,000. One employee forgetting to turn the water off at the end of a given day can result in huge costs.
  • Landlords and Housing Associations can see significant water damage to properties that may result in properties being uninhabitable, carrying significant expense if alternative accommodation needs to be provided.
  • Tenants and safeguarded residents could find their belongings significantly damaged or destroyed, and in severe cases may even need to move home. The financial and emotional toll from this can be significant.


The Solution

For a solution that bypasses each of these issues in turn, you need only look as far as the Surestop Stopcock!

  • This easy to install valve is operated with the flick of a switch - the simplest method of operation that requires very little manual effort. This lends itself to situations where users would find difficulty with a brass stopcock's tap head, or where a conventional stopcock would be located in a tight space.
  • Made of glass-filled nylon the Surestop Stopcock simply cannot build up limescale or corrode - as such it quite literally cannot seize up! This means that no matter how long the valve has been in place, it will be just as easy to operate as on day one.
  • A Surestop remote switch can be added at any time - and be located in an easy to reach location such as above a kitchen counter or just inside a cupboard door. With bright colours, visibility and accessibility is no longer an issue!
  • Bringing the stopcock into the 21st century, a Surestop Hub and Control Unit can allow smart control of the water supply - meaning property administrators can manage the water remotely and turn the water on and off as needed without needing to visit site, at any time - day or night. This is especially useful for void properties with no tenants present.


With these advantages in mind, a property can be made water safe in mere moments, limiting its exposure to damage and ensuring that the water supply can be properly controlled with minimal inconvenience.


1. Statistical Release: Housing Social Housing Lettings: April to September 2020, England

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