Young people demand radical action on housing

• Fears of being priced out of moving home to work and live

PHOTO: Willie Urquhart/WHFP

More than 1,700 young people across the Highlands and Islands have signed an open letter seeking action from politicians amid what they claim is an “existential crisis” caused by rising house prices, a dearth of sustainable work, and an increase in holiday-let properties.

The movement is being spearheaded by nine youngsters originally from Skye who posted the letter via the Iomairt an Eilein group on Facebook on 31st March.

Some of them feel that they have been priced out of moving back home to work and live.

The letter is addressed to the candidates for Skye, Lochaber, and Badenoch constituency, the Highlands and Islands list candidates, the Scottish National Party, and the Scottish Government.

In the first 24 hours it garnered over 1,000 signatures and, to date, more than 1,700 people from across the Highlands and Islands have added their support to the campaign by signing the letter.

Within the letter, the campaigners contend that rising house prices and a lack of sustainable work make it “almost impossible for young people to stay in the communities they call home.”

The youngsters argue that they have been “priced out of the villages” they grew up in and believe that profiting investors are “ransacking our island.”

Their plea states that 10 percent of island properties are now second homes compared with one percent across Scotland as a whole, and adds that the average house price on Skye has been “forced up to £291,000.”

The group want to see more rural work to be devolved to rural Scotland as opposed to the Central Belt or Inverness; an overhaul of the housing register scheme to ensure locals have priority; a clampdown on second property ownership for short-term lets, and a reform of the Highland Council – as the needs and demands of Inverness and the rural communities are “too diverse”.

To read more, see pages 4 & 5 in this week’s Free Press (dated 9 April 2021), available from your newsagent or by subscription, click the link