SCOTTISH Labour have demanded an emergency statement at Holyrood over a looming “fiasco” related to new fire and smoke alarm laws.

The party said an SNP minister needed to explain the changes facing homeowners when new laws on interlinked alarms come into force on February 1.

Labour claimed the new legislation had been beset by problems, including a lack of public awareness, affordability worries, and even a shortage of equipment.

Age Concern also called for a further one-year delay to the law, saying there was "no chance" that most privaate homes were compliant.

The Scottish Government had been due to bring in the new regulations on fire and smoke alarms last February, but postponed it for a year, ostensibly because of the pandemic.

However there had also been a political backlash to the plan, which was prompted by the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and which campaigners said caught people by surprise.

Under the changes, all homes must have interlinked fire and smoke alarms, plus carbon monoxide alarms where required, with the costs at least £200.

Failure to install the alarms could invalidate people’s home insurance. 

Labour said Government failure to promote the changes and ready the public meant hundreds of thousands of households could still fall short of the standards next month.

Scottish Labour MSP Mark Griffin said: “The SNP need to deal with this fiasco.

“We are now just two weeks away from these rules hitting homeowners, potentially making their home insurance worthless.

“It beggars belief that the SNP are still refusing to consider a delay, despite mounting chaos around the new rules.

“Most homeowners don’t even know these law exist, and those who do are being hit by supply shortages and hefty bills.

“The SNP cannot keep ignoring the mess they have made of this policy. They need to give an urgent statement to Parliament this week so we can get the answers homeowners need.”

Age Concern chief executive Brian Sloan said: “It has become abundantly clear that a further extension to this deadline is needed.

More than a year ago we said to the Scottish Government that they needed to 'reset the clock' on this work as the original two years lead time had been lost, and nothing that we have seen or heard in the last few months leads us to believe that this isn’t still needed.

"There is no chance that the vast majority of private residences have had this work done, and as the deadline looms the very foreseeable challenges people face to have these alarms fitted within a year, in the volume required, and with the backdrop of Covid-19 remain.

"Issues surrounding supply and availability of the devices, affordability, support to fit the alarms, and the risk of scams associated with the work have been raised regularly with our helpline over the last year.

"There has also been growing anxiety about letting tradespeople into their homes as the new Covid-19 variant spreads.

“While the fire safety improvements are important, when you consider the incredibly low awareness and compliance a year ago, the late starting national PR campaign, and the lack of clarity on home insurance implications, it was far too ambitious to expect this to have been completed in a year.”

The Scottish Government has been asked for comment.