SNP minister blames UK Government for causing 'public concern' over weak RAAC concrete
Social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville also confirmed there were now 37 schools in Scotland found to contain reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), up from 35 on Friday. She was speaking at Holyrood on Tuesday after being quizzed on the Scottish Government’s response to the RAAC crisis.
The UK Government’s decision to close more than 100 schools last week amid safety concerns about the “bubbly” concrete material, which is prone to sudden collapse, has led to questions over why SNP ministers have not responded in the same way.
The Scotsman also revealed on Tuesday the Scottish Government and local authorities had been warned more than a year about about the dangers of RAAC, including by the fire brigade and West Lothian Council.
In the Scottish Parliament, Ms Somerville said: "I can completely appreciate why there is public concern on this, particularly given the way that announcements have been handled down in England. We appreciate that public concern means we need to be as open as possible as we can be on this, because parents and staff are concerned about this issue.”
The former education secretary said SNP ministers had written to their counterparts in Westminster to seek clarity on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s promise they would “spend what it takes” to make public buildings safe.
Ms Somerville said: "It is essential that we receive early clarity on this matter. This is clearly an issue that is affecting administrations right across the United Kingdom and it is important that the UK Government and the Chancellor take cognisance of that.
“We are working at a time where we are already having cuts made to our capital budgets. That is making it difficult across Government to fulfil the obligations we already have.
"Of course we are committed to working with local authorities, but there is, quite frankly, an obligation on the UK Government to also step up and ensure that everybody is supported on this issue.”
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