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Building services aids Scots' heat scheme

Scottish council building services departments are stepping in to support the Scottish Executive’s troubled programme for providing free central heating to the over 60s.

The scheme ran into difficulty after it emerged that Scottish Gas, the utility provider which was charged with delivering the programme, could not keep up with rising demand.

The central heating programme, which was set up in 2001 and extended in 2004 to cover the under 80s, aims to replace out-dated boilers, fit insulation and install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in homes. However, demand massively outstripped the available funding.

The waiting list stands at 10,500 despite £7 million of extra money being made available to cut waiting times and help vulnerable pensioners. Communities Scotland – the country’s regeneration agency – has now contacted councils to see if they can help.

City Building (Glasgow) - a former building services department which is now run as an arms length private enterprise - has been asked to liaise with Communities Scotland and Scottish Gas about how it can support the programme.

It will initially take on rthe esponsibility for installing 10 boilers a week to the most vulnerable households until the end of the financial year, but this figure is likely to grow substantially after March.

“Scottish Gas said it was on course to meet its original installation targets plus an additional 1,600 priority cases. It was also aiming to deliver central heating systems to everyone who had applied by September 12 last year.

Its spokesperson said: “We are currently installing over 300 central heating systems per week within the programme with this figure set to rise again over coming weeks.

'Some Local Authorities will be installing small numbers of installations to help the most vulnerable applicants to get heating as quickly as possible.”