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Rural housing shortage made worse by home working, says SSPO chief

Tavish Scott:
Tavish Scott: "We would be very keen to work with housing associations and other providers on any solutions that would assist us in providing more housing." Photo: SSPO.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated Scotland’s rural housing crisis, Scotland’s farmed salmon trade body has told the Scottish Parliament.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, today told MSPs that a lack of affordable housing was now a major issue for employers trying to create jobs in rural areas.

Speaking from Shetland to the new Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee of the Scottish Parliament, Scott said salmon producers were willing to work with any housing providers to try to find solutions to the problem.

But he added that the issue had worsened through the pandemic as working patterns had changed and more people were choosing to live in rural areas and work remotely by video link.

Significant issue

Scott said housing supply was a “significant issue” for the salmon farming sector in every part of Scotland, but it was particularly acute in the islands.

He added: “It is one of the other sides to Covid. What we have seen, certainly in my home in Shetland, is actually increases in pressures on housing as people have sought to leave the mainland of the UK and find property and housing in our parts of the world.

“That has increased housing pressure and therefore there is less available for young families, young people, working folk who are employed, for example, in the salmon farming sector.”

Higher prices

Scott said the increased pressures on housing had pushed up house prices, making it hard for people with offers of work to move to remote, rural areas.

He added: “We have worked really hard on that, to put money into development trusts, to housing initiatives in the areas we farm. We will do more of that in the future, whether it’s on islands or on the west coast of Scotland but we would be very keen to work with housing associations and other providers on any solutions that would assist us in providing more housing.”

There are more than 60 properties either owned or rented by Scotland’s salmon farming companies to provide accommodation for more than 130 workers.