Potentially dangerous concrete is suspected to have been used in hundreds of council managed homes across Scotland - leading to a wave of new investigations, the Herald on Sunday can reveal.

Nearly 1100 homes have so far been identified to have reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) across Scotland or are directly suspected to have it.

It has emerged that the Scottish Government is co-ordinating a cross-sector working group with housing stakeholders including the Scottish Housing Regulator, local authorities and housing providers across Scotland "to ensure risks are identified and the necessary action is taken".

There are fears that hundreds more homes with the concrete that can collapse without warning could be found as nationwide investigations are underway to discover the extent of the problem.

The problems with council homes already discovered are feared to cost the public purse millions to put right.

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Six councils have so far confirmed to the Herald on Sunday the actual or likely presence of the crumbling concrete.

Some 22 of Scotland's 26 local authorities that provide housing are currently investigating the use of RAAC in homes they control along with a further four major housing associations.

Analysis carried out by the Herald on Sunday shows that just five that provide housing categorically say they do not suspect RAAC has been used in their homes. Six local authorities say they are no longer responsible because they do not have council housing.

The Herald: Glasgow Life confirmed it is currently in the process of appointing structural engineers to conduct

The Scottish Tenants' Organisation said the revelations were "disturbing" and said it was "absolutely critical" that every local authority and registered social landlord properly examines all of its housing stock and undertake "comprehensive remedial work needed to make tenants safe irrespective of the cost". It said it was a "life or death issue".

RAAC is a lightweight material that was used mostly in flat roofing, but also in floors and walls, between the 1950s and 1990s.

It is a cheaper alternative to standard concrete, is quicker to produce and easier to install and is aerated, or "bubbly", like an Aero chocolate bar.

But it is less durable and has a lifespan of around 30 years.

In June, the National Audit Office reported that years of insufficient funding had increased the risk of a building collapse.

Over the summer, a RAAC panel that would have been classed as "non-critical" collapsed at a school in England - leading to the final decision to take action and a scramble ahead of the start of term.

The Herald on Sunday has been told that action is being taken over 980 homes covering five councils areas that have already been found to have RAAC.

In Aberdeen the local authority has written to residents of 500 properties on the Balnagask Estate in the south east of the city, to explain that RAAC was “likely to have been used” when the estate was built.

It discovered the material on the 1960s estate during a review of its 22,000 properties following growing concern over the safety of the concrete.

The council is now to conduct further detailed inspections to determine its condition, original construction detail and other relevant technical assessments. An action plan will then be drawn up with residents.

A further 400 have been pinpointed in homes managed by Scotland's largest local authority social housing landlord, North Lanarkshire Council through what it called an initial desktop analysis.

The council says the study found that the council housing may have had RAAC as part of their construction.

They are now in the process of instructing specialist surveyors to carry out inspections and are due to liaise directly with tenants in properties requiring inspection.

Angus council says 25 social homes have been identified as containing RAAC, while investigations are continuing.

Clackmannanshire council says nine households were affected when a block of flats were evacuated to alternative accommodation after RAAC were identified.

Households in 75-97 Chapell Crescent, Tillicoultry were notified they could not longer live there on September 25.

Tenants were told to pack as much as they could and were moved out.

The Herald: The building which is understood to be a block of 12 flats including three that were privately owned was served with a dangerous building notice due to potential safety issues with the condition of RAAC.

Edinburgh City Council said it was investigating the presence of RAAC after previously discovering its existence in homes it is responsible for.

Between 2011 and 2015, refurbishment work was carried out on 43 council homes that had been identified as having RAAC.

But the council has said that it would be contacting the tenants that are at the properties now to confirm remedial work was taken.

They are to be told that no further work is thought to be required, but that as part of the condition surveys the council is carrying out across its estate, they will revisit their buildings and carry out a new survey for further reassurance.

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North Ayrshire Council is carrying out physical surveys of more than 100 pinpointed properties that were constructed within the period RAAC was used to confirm whether any is present.

Dundee City Council which is carrying out investigation of the use of the concrete on current council houses and former ones say they expected that the number of affected properties "will represent only a very small proportion of our total housing stock". It refused to discuss the numbers.

Just four councils have said they do not suspect RAAC was used and are not carrying out investigation work - West Dunbartonshire, Highland, Orkney and Perth and Kinross.

East Renfrewshire says it is getting a re-examination of investigation work carried out by its technical to confirm the findings they already have, that there is no RAAC within council properties.

Glasgow, Inverclyde, Argyll and Bute, Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar said they had no council house stock.

Of seven major housing associations who provide tens of thousands of social homes across the country, four have said they are carrying out investigations into the use of concrete - Hanover, River Clyde Homes, Argyll Community Housing Association and West of Scotland Housing Association.

The biggest Scottish housing association, Wheatley, which owns or manages over 93,600 homes in 19 of Scotland's 32 local authority areas said that comprehensive analysis of its records confirmed that RAAC was not used in any of its homes. There is not understood to be any further review or investigation as a result.

Concerns about the state of social housing have been taken to the Scottish Government by the STO.

One Scottish Government official responded to say: "While it is the statutory responsibility of building owners to manage and maintain their estate, this is a building safety issue that the Scottish Government takes very seriously.

"Assessments of risks related to RAAC are underway across the housing sector.

"The Scottish Housing Regulator is the independent regulator of registered social landlords and local authority housing services in Scotland. It is for them to consider what regulatory action is necessary to ensure that we understand the scale and nature of the issue in the social sector and to ensure that appropriate action is taken by providers."

Sean Clerkin, campaign co-ordinator of the STO said: "The Scottish Government in tandem with the Scottish Housing Regulator have to enforce physical examination of all housing stock in Scotland and effective remediation of RAAC by all landlords to ensure all tenants are safe. There is no room for complacency."

It comes as 39 schools in 16 local authorities have indicated that as of last month they had found potentially dangerous concrete in their schools following inspections.

And it is believed that some 250 NHS buildings in Scotland could contain the concrete.

NHS Scotland issued a Safety Action Notice in February and completed a "desktop survey" of its estate in June.

A North Lanarkshire Council spokesman said: "This is a very lengthy and complex process, given we are the largest local authority social housing landlord in Scotland with nearly 37,000 homes. There are also some instances where people have bought their own homes from our stock so this is a very complex process.

"This is a lengthy assessment and planning for the next phase of survey work will begin in the coming weeks.

Angus Council said: "Where the presence of RAAC has been confirmed, we are liaising directly with the occupants to provide advice.

“The wellbeing of our tenants is, as always, a key priority for the council. Detailed inspections of all council-owned affected properties are being carried out as a priority, and any urgent remedial action will be taken as necessary.”

Clackmannanshire Council said: “The safety of tenants and residents remains our priority."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Maintaining the safety of buildings is the responsibility of building owners, and this includes responsibility for any assessment of the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete.

“Authoritative guidance on identification and assessment of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete is already published by organisations such as the Institution of Structural Engineers. We continue to engage with the UK government and such organisations to understand and support broader action being taken. We are raising awareness of this risk topic across all sectors though our cross-sector working group on RAAC. We are working with the Scottish Housing Regulator to coordinate a data gathering exercise across all social housing providers to understand the types and tenures of properties with RAAC, its current state and the action required.”


What is reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac)?

RAAC, visually resembles concrete but is notably lighter and was employed in numerous one and two-storey public sector buildings across the UK from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s.

Unlike traditional concrete, it exhibits reduced durability and is estimated to have a lifespan of approximately 30 years. Moreover, it is susceptible to structural failure when exposed to moisture.

The UK Government initiated an investigation into the use of the material in schools in 2018 following an incident where the roof of a primary school in Kent collapsed just 24 hours after the onset of structural stress indicators.

Schools began closing after the UK government found out that out of the 156 schools in England using Raac materials, only 52 had implemented precautions to mitigate potential risks, including structural collapse.

In response, the Department for Education (DfE) issued a directive to schools, instructing them to promptly close buildings constructed with RAAC.

Ministers dropped guidance suggesting schools and councils would have to fund the costs of temporary and emergency accommodation.