Argyll and Bute Council has declared a housing emergency.
There has been a consistent reduction in available housing throughout the UK over the last few years, as well as a steady increase in demand, rising property prices, and increasing levels of un-affordability.
In Argyll and Bute specifically, there has been a rise in homelessness post-pandemic and an increasing lack of housing choice.
This has had a direct impact on property prices in the area, private rental levels are rising at a substantial rate, housing availability is decreasing despite the social rent build programme, and local wages are not keeping up with inflation.
At a meeting of the council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee, members agreed to take immediate action to address these issues, including:
- Updating the Local Housing Strategy to address the issues identified, with a clear focus on housing delivery actions;
- Hosting a Housing Summit in Autumn 2023 to examine the issue further and bring together a range of housing stakeholders and partners;
- To continue to develop an Officer Housing Group to focus on these issues and to identify appropriate actions which are likely to include new and direct housing interventions.
Council Leader Robin Currie said: “We have already identified housing as a priority and we have been working hard to deliver a variety of initiatives to address the issue. For example, we extended our award-winning empty homes team to bring more disused properties back in to use, Phase 3 of Dunbeg is coming to completion, and community housing groups are delivering their own housing developments in various places.
“Whilst these are all positive steps, we need to do more. For example, we have very little to no say in the private housing market, both those for sale and rent, and unpredictable changes in the private rental market has resulted in a reduction of available housing to let for permanent residents.
“This is just one of the issues that we need to examine in more detail to see how we can address the situation in partnership with other stakeholders including those in the private sector, community groups, RSLs and the Scottish Government.,
“There is no quick fix, but by declaring a housing emergency it will help us to raise the issue at local and national level and help focus our resources.”