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Argyll and Bute Housing Emergency Summit

SFHA External Affairs Director Carolyn Lochhead attended a summit convened by Argyll and Bute Council, following the area’s declaration of a housing emergency. She shares her reflections on the day.  

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By Carolyn Lochhead, SFHA Director of External Affairs

It’s always a joy to spend time in beautiful Oban, but I was there for a serious reason this week, taking part in discussions about Argyll and Bute’s recently-declared housing emergency.  

Representatives from the council, Scottish Government and other stakeholders joined local SFHA members and MSP Jenni Minto to look for solutions to the mounting problems. Social housing makes up 18% of all homes in the area: 5% lower than the Scottish average. There are six applicants for every available social let in Argyll and Bute, which saw a 28% increase in homelessness applications in 22/23.  

Delegates also heard that by 2028, the working age population is projected to decline by almost 30%, while close to eight out of ten local employers say a shortage of housing is affecting their ability to recruit and retain staff. Over 15% of Argyll and Bute’s housing stock is not being used as a main residence and is instead classified as second homes, empty homes or short term lets.  

Presentations from council leader Councillor Robin Currie and staff from Scottish Futures Trust, the Scottish Buildings Federation, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Shelter preceded a round of intensive discussions aiming to find realistic ways forward.  

We spent the rest of the day considering proposals to enable the delivery of more affordable and market homes, homes for the local workforce and best use of existing homes. It was evident that joint work was needed to tackle the very real challenges in the area, and the excellent housing association representation at the meeting made clear that our sector is strongly committed to taking a constructive role.   

The issues in Argyll and Bute are echoed across the country, and as I set off for the scenic drive home, I reflected once again that delivering and maintaining more affordable homes could not be more essential. I know our members will play our part, and SFHA will support this work wherever possible.  

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