Scots don’t have enough time to comply with new fire and safety rules, politicians and charities have warned.
Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 2:05 pm
The Scottish government could be set for an embarrassing U-turn on strict new fire safety regulations following an outcry over the cost implications for homeowners.
Officials have privately admitted property owners may struggle to fund changes under the legislation – which come into force in February next year.
An official Scottish government spokesperson confirmed a delay is being “actively considered” with a decision to be made “shortly”.
The call for a re-think came after The Scotsman revealed mounting fears over the costs of installing state-of-the-art smoke alarms, heat detectors and CO2 detectors in every home.
Homeowners learned about the new regulations when flyers dropped through their letterboxes a fortnight ago warning of substantial penalties for non-compliance and insurance policies being rendered invalid in the event of an accident.
Under the new rules, published by the Scottish government on October 12, homeowners must have a ceiling-mounted smoke alarm in their living room, hallways and landings and a heat alarm in every kitchen. The alarms – costing hundreds of pounts – have to be interlinked.
Charities Age Scotland and Citizens Advice Scotland said they fear people won’t be able to afford to meet the new rules in time.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said there had been “very little publicity” and urged the government to immediately delay the new rules to 2022.
He said: “The SNP government must confirm a delay to the deadline for the installation of new alarm systems as soon as possible to provide certainty and ensure there is time for people to comply.
“Fire safety is absolutely vital, but homeowners currently have less than four months to install the alarms, at a cost of between £200 and £300, or risk breaking the law and invalidating their home insurance.
“Many people have been quoted even higher figures, yet the only communication on this matter has been from businesses offering to install these alarms, not the Scottish government who introduced the measures.
“I have been contacted by many people concerned and confused about what they need to do. The rush to get tens of thousands of units installed will put real pressure on the trade.
“There has been a communications failure over the change from the SNP Government. It is only right to delay this unrealistic target while individuals and families are facing financial challenges and the ongoing pandemic is creating concerns about tradespeople coming into their homes.”
Age Scotland’s Head of Policy, Adam Stachura said: “The public awareness and promotion of this significant change leaves a lot to be desired and there has been near radio silence from the Scottish Government about this over the course of the year.“Age Scotland’s helpline has been inundated with calls from older people over the last week seeking more information, advice on who can help install these alarms, and if there is financial support available to them as they are on low and fixed incomes. Many callers are anxious about allowing new people into their homes at a time when Covid-19 transmission rates are high and wondering how on earth it will be possible to get the necessary work done before the deadline in just a few months.”There are considerable concerns about the affordability of this for hundreds of thousands of older people who now face a significant new bill with not enough time to save up. There is also an increased risk of scams and rogue traders, and potential implications for home insurance policies if people do not meet the deadline.“The Scottish government should, at the very least, extend the deadline for this requirement to the spring of 2022 in order to give homeowners enough time to plan, save, and get this important work done without the risk of breaking the law.”
A Scottish government spokesperson said: “In light of the challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Scottish government is actively considering a delay in the deadline to carry out this important safety work. A decision will be announced shortly.”