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Housing / Resourcing issues causing delays with council house electrical testing

THERE is a backlog of hundreds of council houses in Shetland due or overdue their five-yearly electrical testing checks, new figures show.

This has been attributed to capacity constraints both in-house in Shetland Islands Council and among contractors, as well as the knock-on effects of the Covid pandemic.

As of 31 October, 470 properties were due or overdue, with 173 of these expected to be completed this financial year.

However, as it stands 273 of these homes are not planned to be tested until 2024/25 or 2025/26.

Meanwhile around 17 per cent of the council accommodation does not yet have interlinked smoke and heat detectors.

A report from the SIC’s internal auditor said: “While we recognise the constraints the service faces, such as geographical and staffing challenges, as well as difficulties in securing external contractors to complete this work, the progress made to date is not sufficient and we have concerns around the planning of the work.

“Failure to adequately address these recommendations poses a serious risk to both the council’s housing tenants and the council.”

A report presented to councillors on the SIC’s development committee in September said progress on electrical testing has been “much slower than anticipated” due to resourcing issues.

“While external contractors are making progress on the current programme of works the nature of how we have to package the work also impacts on delivery,” the council said.

“We are continuing efforts to achieve full compliance.”

That report also said resourcing and property access issues had hampered the installation of the extended smoke detector programme, which is required under legislation established in 2022.

It added: “It is important to note that these properties are all fitted with smoke detection and the non-compliance relates to the extension/enhancement work that is to be carried out in line with the changes to the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (Tolerable Standard) (Extension of Criterion) Order 2019.

“We are continuing efforts to achieve full compliance.”

The situation is being monitored by in-house staff as well as the Scottish Housing Regulator.

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