West Lothian Council asks government to cover RAAC private home surveys

The Scottish Government is to be asked to cover the cost of surveys to discover if privately owned West Lothian homes have a dangerous form of crumbling concrete.
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The council recently declared that RAAC had been found in 69 homes and 15 common blocks, and said it would be spending an estimated £4.3million to remove it.

At the same time private homeowners in a number of areas were advised that they should get a survey done to determine whether the crumbling concrete was present in their homes – causing concern among residents over the cost.

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Now local councillors have backed a call for the Scottish Government “to provide an undertaking that they will fully fund condition surveys for suspected RAAC remediation costs in both council homes and those of owner occupiers.”

Scottish Government is being asked to cover the cost of private home surveys.Scottish Government is being asked to cover the cost of private home surveys.
Scottish Government is being asked to cover the cost of private home surveys.

SNP leader Robert De Bold had put forward a motion calling on the council “to take leadership in identifying the greater problem of RAAC structural elements in all homes in West Lothian.”

Councillor De Bold claimed that the council, as housing provider of last resort was “passing buck in a self-defeating dereliction of duty” to do anything other than work with home-owners.

Instead a Conservative/Labour amendment was passed calling for help from the Sottish Government. The motion also called for an update on “detailed information on the support that the Council is able to provide to home-owners.”

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Lib Dem councillor Sally Pattle said the council had already shown leadership in tackling RAAC to the extent that it had spent £50m.

She told the meeting: “We are currently facing a bill in excess of £50m because we were so ahead of the game. The other suggestion I have an issue with in the SNP motion is the fact that West Lothian Council has responsibility for privately owned homes.

“We need to be clear here. When these properties were sold nobody knew about the dangers that were posed by RAAC. West Lothian Council has repeatedly contacted the Scottish Government looking for guidance and resources; we have never received a penny or a word of advice. There’s been nothing.”

Councillor Pattle added: “This issue is far greater than any individual authority can deal with by themselves; it affects so many aspects of public and private buildings, It’s a national issue. What we need is to be led by a national strategy.”

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Councillor Pauline Stafford for the SNP said: “I agree with Sally. It should be a UK national strategy. We need to look at all layers of government to support tenants and home owners. I think we agree with most of what’s in the amendment. I don’t understand why you would just stop at the Scottish Government, that’s a government whose capital budget has been cut by 10%, so how do you expect them to find money to cover this. I thought we were part of the broad shoulders of the UK.

“Jeremy Hunt said we will spend what it takes to make sure children can go to school safely then he failed to provide any new money in the education budget.”

After the meeting, Councillor De Bold told the LDRS : “Cllr Angela Doran-Timson’s revised joint motion with Labour stated, ‘Homeowners are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of their own properties, including addressing any potential issues like RAAC.’ Instead, they proposed, ‘awareness-raising, and advocacy’ – so, essentially just thoughts and prayers.

“This is short-sighted, as any resultant increase in homelessness simply becomes a direct cost to the Council through housing families in hotels. This currently costs the council £2 million per year as it is and is before any impact from RAAC.”

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“Labour opposed the SNP motion for the council to take leadership in developing solutions for those affected. This might not be a problem the Labour administration wants, but trying to ignore it isn’t going to make it go away.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​