Mini Bite – from Alistair Danter – 26th September 2021

In Alistair's Mini Bite below you'll find information on Alistair Danter's work as Project Manager for SkyeConnect.

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It has been a week when vacuum packed food looked like having a dodgy shelf life (how did we manage without it?)…….Scotland’s women’s footy team gave the Faroes a ‘gubbing’ and the British Prime Minister lectured the world on ‘growing up’ at the UN summit……. which left many of us wondering ‘whatever next’!

Life at SkyeConnect HQ continued with a brief interlude to tie down the wheely bins as the first autumn storm hit the island .

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Quick Skip

Sleat Perfectly Skye

Commonly known as ‘the garden of Skye‘, Sleat is Skye’s softer, greener peninsula with lush vegetation reaching down to rocky shorelines and sandy beaches.

Sleat Perfectly Skye is a fantastic website designed to help you and your guests plan great stays and experiences in Sleat in the South of Skye. 

Virtual Members Meeting with Kate Forbes MSP

Directors and a small group of members met with Kate Forbes MSP for a wide-ranging discussion including Short Term Lets, Housing, Employment, Scottish Visas and International Travel. As the discussion moved on housing emerged as a key cross cutting issue with a need for innovative partnership working between communities, businesses, The Communities Housing Trust and  Local Housing association.

Online Poll – National Park Potential

The SkyeConnect online Facebook poll suggested a majority would favour further consideration of the value of Skye becoming a designated National Park. The poll also attracted a significant number of reasons why the option should not be pursued, namely burdensome bureaucracy and the impact on the cost and availability of housing

Regional Employment Seminar

A regional employment seminar saw SkyeConnect meeting Skills Development Scotland, Highland Council, HIE, Regional Chambers of Commerce, VisitScotland and others to discuss employment issues for the hospitality sector. The meeting recognised the complexity of the issue which can be summarised as the 3 Ps – Pay, Productivity and Place. Pay in the sector is increasing. Productivity can be assisted with innovations in IT, but innovations in working models is also an important consideration. The third P – Place – is about accommodation and connectivity which, as we all know, is not a quick fix. SkyeConnect will be organising our own Island Employment summit in the coming months, together with some collaborative work with the West Highland College and Developing the Youth Workforce. Watch this space….

A reminder for Outdoor Activity Providers

As reported in an earlier “mini bite”, funding applications for outdoor activity providers and marine operators that were ineligible under the earlier round of Covid support are now open – https://bit.ly/3AH6Gcq

Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group Research

The Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) is conducting research with tourism and event businesses to determine the needs and wants for data and information, together with identifying how businesses currently use data in order to understand challenges experienced in finding appropriate information. The aim is to develop a knowledge resource for people involved in the Scottish tourism and events industry known as the Scottish Tourism Observatory. The resource will support the industry to successfully recover from COVID-19 and help to ensure future resilience to contribute to the survey link to: https://bit.ly/3lYR91p

STL Legislation

The issue of Short term lets continues to take up a considerable amount of time and effort . A meeting with the Chair of Highland Council Tourism Committee, Gordon Adam and Tourism Officer,  Colin Simpson revealed that ,if implemented as currently proposed, the licencing system would require recruitment of 6 full time staff by the Council. A link to questions and answers in the Scottish Parliament in relation to Short Term lets can be found at https://bit.ly/2XRbs9k

One particularly interesting question raised by Mark Griffin (Central Scotland) (Scottish Labour Party): To ask the Scottish Government what information it has on the estimated number of (a) empty private residential properties, (b) empty public sector residential properties, (c) second homes and (d) self-catering units there currently are……..elicited a response from Shona Robison (The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government) (a) & (c) The latest set of annual statistics on the number of Long Term Empty Properties and Second Homes, based on Council Tax Base data as at September 2020, were published in the Housing Statistics Quarterly Update in December 2020, and are available at: https://bit.ly/3lP8eLm with detailed local authority level Excel tables covering the period from 1996 to 2020 available at  https://bit.ly/3zGjDSq Figures are split into the categories of Long Term Empty Properties and Second Homes, however are not available broken down by housing tenure. The latest annual figures show that there were 47,333 Long Term Empty properties and 24,466 Second Homes, across all tenures, as at September 2020. In addition, there were 44,143 Unoccupied Exemptions, generally properties which are empty and unfurnished for less than 6 months and exempt from paying council tax. (b) The Scottish Housing Regulator publish figures on the number of vacant self-contained lettable social housing properties, with most recent data as at end June 2021 available as part of the Covid-19 dashboards at: https://bit.ly/3CH7sqy, and with previous annual data published as part of annual Charter Data figures for 2014/15 to 2018/19 at: https://bit.ly/2ZiRSD1

The latest Scottish Housing Regulator figures on vacant self-contained lettable social housing stock show that there were 8,886 empty social sector homes (including 5,311 local authority homes and 3,575 housing association homes) as at the end of June 2021. There will always be vacant social housing stock at any point of time as social landlords prepare homes in advance of them being re-allocated. Social landlords, as part of meeting the Scottish Social Housing Charter, strive to provide an efficient and effective management of their housing services. This includes minimising the time houses are empty. Latest published figures from the Scottish Housing Regulator show that the average time to re-let a social housing property in the quarter April to June 2021 was 52 calendar days (an average of 62 days for local authority properties, and 41 days for housing association properties).

 

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