ANOTHER half a million pounds has now been set aside to help elderly and disabled people install new must-have fire alarms.

All homes in Scotland must have interlinked fire alarms that send signals to each other as part of a bid to improve safety and save lives.

The systems should give people more time to escape and call emergency services.

If a fire breaks out in one room, all alarms in the property will sound thanks to their wireless connection.

New-build and private-rented homes have had to comply with the rule for a decade and it will extend to owner-occupied homes and those in the social rented sector from Tuesday February 1.

The additional £500,000 announced by the Scottish Government will go to Care and Repair Scotland to help elderly and disabled householders and doubles the cash being allocated to this cause.

READ MORE: Scottish fire alarm rules explained in full ahead of February 1 deadline

Those eligible for the help must live in houses with council tax bands between A and C and either be of state pension age and in receipt of guaranteed Pension Credit, or have a disability and be in a support group for Employment and Support Allowance.

Another £1 million has been provided to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to install alarms in the homes of people at highest risk.

Altogether, the Scottish Government is providing £2m to help people to meet the new standards.

Councils will have a legal duty to monitor how many homes are compliant.

Homeowners will not be penalised if they haven’t had the alarms installed in time but are encouraged to do so. The Association of British Insurers has confirmed that its members are aware of the new regulations coming into force and are unlikely to invalidate a home insurance claim for existing customers who haven’t yet complied with the new law in Scotland. Anyone who is unclear about their policy should speak to their insurer.

Housing Secretary Shona Robison said: "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.

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"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."

She went on: "We know that some homeowners may not be able to meet the cost of fitting the necessary alarms so had already provided £500,000 funding through Care and Repair Scotland to help elderly and disabled people.

"We don’t want funding to be a barrier to this important work, which is why we’re now doubling this funding, taking our total support to help people install these alarms to £2m. 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."

Robert Thomson, national director for Care and Repair Scotland, said: "We are delighted by this announcement as this has been a very popular scheme and the additional funding will allow local Care and Repair services to continue to support older and disabled people.

"We intend to target some of this additional funding to council areas that do not have a Care and Repair service. It is also helpful that we are able to continue to provide support beyond the 1 February deadline."

However, Tory shadow housing secretary Miles Briggs accused the SNP administration of making "another knee-jerk reaction to another blunder". He said: "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.

"Rather than trying to cover the cracks, the SNP should postpone this scheme and produce a thorough plan to ensure households are able to meet the requirements.”