New funding for fire alarm scheme does not ‘scratch the surface’ of what is needed

An extra £500,000 has been found to install fire alarms in the homes of the elderly and disabled after revelations that funding was running out in some parts of Scotland.

Scottish Government Ministers said they would double the funding to Care and Repair Scotland to help older and disabled people to install the alarms after the Daily Record exposed the “shambles” of the new fire alarm rules.

But opposition parties said the increase was a “knee-jerk” reaction that barely scratches the surface of what is needed days before the new rules come in.

Care and Repair, which previously received £500,000 from the Scottish Government to help people comply with the new rules, closed its doors to new customers in South Lanarkshire and could not provide updates to existing clients days before controversial new safety rules come into force.

Now an additional £500,000 has been found for Care and Repair Scotland to install fire alarms and meet new building standards rules.

The money brings the Scottish Government overall funding for fire alarms to £2 million to help people to meet the new standards.

The new rules require all homes in Scotland to have interlinked fire alarms, which communicate with each other so that a fire in one room sets off alarms throughout the property, giving people more time to escape and call emergency services.

Shona Robison, the Housing Secretary, said: “We don’t want funding to be a barrier to this important work, which is why we’re now doubling this funding, taking our full support to help people install these alarms to £2 million .

“We are in discussions with Care and Repair to ensure support continues up to and beyond the 1 February deadline, so that elderly and disabled people can make this fire safety improvement.”

She added: “We’re introducing these new standards because interlinked fire alarms will save more lives. One death from fire is one too many, but tragically last year alone 44 people died in house fires in Scotland. We would encourage all homeowners to install the alarms as soon as they are able – long life battery-powered interlinked alarms are as easy to install as traditional standalone ones.”

Scottish Labor Housing spokesperson Mark Griffin said: “It’s good to hear that funding has been coughed up for this vital scheme, which has been running out of money up and down the country.”

He added: “The more people this scheme can help the better – but this will still barely scratch the surface of what is needed.

“The last round of funding was enough to help just one person for every ten eligible, so doubling it is hardly a job well done.”

“The SNP must step up efforts to make sure everyone can afford these important upgrades and keep their homes safe.”

Scottish Conservative Shadow Housing Secretary Miles Briggs MSP said: “This is yet another knee-jerk reaction to another blunder by the SNP Government who have failed to adequately publicize these changes.

“The SNP expect households to comply with this new law on Tuesday yet have done nothing to monitor the progress of this scheme, or research how many homes are still falling short.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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