CALLS from Fife MSPs to delay a new law on fire alarms in the home have been dismissed by the Scottish Government.

Labour and Tory politicians raised concerns about residents having to spend hundreds of pounds to comply with a change in the regulations at a time when the cost of living, including food prices, energy bills and inflation, is rising.

They also highlighted fears that thousands of homes won't meet the new standards in time and home insurance policies could be voided as a result.

However, a ministerial statement issued on Wednesday said "it is not right to delay the legislation" and confirmed that all domestic dwellings in Scotland should have interlinked alarms by February 1.

Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, Claire Baker, said: “The new rules are due to come into force in a couple of weeks and homeowners unaware of their responsibilities could risk insurance claims being denied.

“We are also seeing reports of people being overcharged for products and fitting, issues with the supply of products and a lack of support for vulnerable groups including older people in meeting the new requirements.

“Far too many homeowners are still unaware of the upcoming change and the Scottish Government has simply not done enough to address that. There are also questions to answer around affordability, accessibility and adequate supply of the required alarms."

And Mid Scotland and Fife Tory MSP Alexander Stewart said there had been "continued anxiety", especially among older people, about letting tradespeople into homes due to Covid and that it was "simply not reasonable" to expect the public to meet the February deadline.

From next month, all homes in Scotland should be fitted with interlinked alarms.

This means a smoke alarm in the main room of the house, a smoke alarm in every circulation space on each floor and a heat alarm in the kitchen.

These must be interlinked so that when one goes off, they all go off and everyone in the household is alerted immediately.

The law was to be introduced last year but was postponed due to the pandemic.

In a statement, the cabinet minister for social justice, housing and local government, Shona Robison, said: "There have been calls for a further delay to this legislation but, having considered the balance of risks, I am clear that it is not right to delay the legislation that is designed to protect and save lives."

She said a public consultation in Scotland carried out after the Grenfell fire tragedy showed "strong support" for a new law and that a national campaign on TV, radio and digital had run throughout last summer.

Ms Robison said: "At an expected average cost of around £220, and often less, I hope these new fire alarm standards will be viewed as part of ongoing improvements for people who own their homes.

"One that will protect their property and importantly can save lives.

"I know however people are feeling the cost of living squeeze right now and might feel they do not have that money available. So I’d like to make two points.

"For those who own their home who are at high risk of fire, or who are elderly or disabled, we have provided £1.5 million through the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Care & Repair Scotland to support homeowners to have appropriate alarms fitted.

"Second, it is local authorities who have the duty for ensuring compliance with these standards in their local area and they will be taking a proportionate and measured approach to compliance, taking individual circumstances into account as well as reflecting the evolving situation with the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Can I be absolutely clear that there are no penalties for non-compliance and no one will be penalised if they need more time, although I strongly encourage all homeowners to make these changes and benefit from the improved protection against loss of life and property in the event of a fire."

Around 35,000 houses in Scotland qualify for funding; eligibility can be checked on the Scottish Government website.