HOUSING campaigners are calling on the Scottish Government to review all social housing stock in the country amid fears homes were built using a type of concrete at risk of collapsing.

The Scottish Tenants Organisation has demanded ministers order councils and housing associations to check their properties to find out whether they were built using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac).

Schools in Scotland will remain open, the First Minister has said, despite the English Department for Education ordering the closure of 104 schools south of the Border over fears buildings are at risk of collapse.

Now concerns have been raised the material could have been used in the construction of council houses and could pose similar safety risks.

Raac is a building material used extensively from the 1950s to 1970 which decays over time and has been linked with ceiling collapses in schools, most recently in Kent in 2018.

Sean Clerkin of the Scottish Tenants Organisation said the Scottish Government must ensure there is no risk to those living in 20th century council houses, where the material may be present.

He pointed to comments made by a housing expert in an interview with specialist publication Inside Housing, who estimated as much as 10% of UK council houses could have been built using the material.

'Urgent thorough inspection'

Richard Crow, a partner with the housing consultancy firm Rapleys, told the site: “It’s really a question of how many properties were built during the 1950s, 60s and 70s – as the manufacture and design of the panels during this period was inefficient and inadequate, with steel reinforcement also installed in the wrong place. 

“This was further compounded by years of poor maintenance and water ingress from failed roof coverings, causing further deterioration.

“The attributing issues from these periods of construction, that compounds the current lack of certainty on how far the problem extends, is that health and safety and operational and maintenance [manuals] did not exist in any form, let alone to the standards of our current construction industry. 

READ MORE: 'No immediate risk' posed by collapse-risk concrete in Scottish schools

“Therefore, there is no way to say which properties have Raac other than to inspect properties containing flat roofs, built during the 50s, 60s and 70s.

“During this period, the largest number of social housing was built so it will be a case of urgent thorough inspection across the country by local authorities, and then, for those that do have it (our figures of 5-10% were based on the investigations we are working on within schools), putting in place the solutions to ensure they are protected against damage.”

The National:

Clerkin (above) said the comments must spur action from the Scottish Government.

He said: “The Scottish Tenants Organisation is calling for urgent checks to establish the risk in social housing in Scotland especially those with flat roofs for Raac as this was used in the construction of homes in the 1950s,1960s and 1970s which is defective concrete with buildings being in danger of immediate collapse.

"Rapleys, the housing consultancy, estimate that about 5-10% of social rented homes in the UK have Raac and it is important that thorough inspections take place as soon as possible in Scotland to make safe those social rented homes that have this form of defective concrete.

"It is imperative that the Scottish Government instruct all councils and registered social landlords like housing associations forthwith to carry out these inspections without delay to ensure the health and safety of all social tenants in Scotland."

The Independent reported that fears around the presence of Raac were sparked after a beam made from the material broke in an English school over the summer. 

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Building safety is an issue the Scottish Government takes very seriously and we are fully aware of significant issues with some Raac.

"Reviews of Raac have been conducted by local authorities, NHS Scotland and other public sector organisations for some time so we can all fully understand the scope of Raac, including in social housing.

“In addition we established a cross sector working group on Raac to ensure action is taken where required so that people are safe and feel safe in buildings.”