One of the tropes I have heard all too often is that the 18 thousand odd properties across all of Scotland currently registered as S/C units with Councils are somehow intrinsically and inescapably linked to a lack of affordable housing. I hear it trotted out so frequently that, like a lot of supposed facts, when you go to look for the source, there’s nothing there!?
I think this latest Scotsman article speaks volumes to this issue of, dare I say it, ‘fake news’ whose shadow we are attempting to operate from beneath.
So, ever the one to look at actual government sourced data, here are some interesting (if not downright contradictory) statistics that confound the so-often stated claims as facts I see in the press and spoken from the lips of government officials.
Estimates of Households and Dwellings in Scotland, 2020, published in June this year, contains some interesting bits of data:
In the last 19 years, the number of houses has grown by 320 thousand in Scotland (from 2.19 million to 2.51 million). That’s nearly 17 thousand new houses per year on average.
That does beg the, I think very reasonable question, what has Short Term Lets got to do with a lack of affordable housing and if it actually does, what and where is the evidence for this?
More plausible might be the fact that as the report states, around a third of households in 2019 are now just one person living alone. Way up on 2001.
But here is the truly befuddling statistic to come from the Government. In large urban areas (such as Edinburgh) 3.3% of dwellings are vacant. It’s even higher in rural areas at 5.6%.
If we do some very simple calculations, there are about 250 thousand council tax addresses in the city of Edinburgh, which means right now there are approximately 7,500 odd houses unoccupied in the capital, versus 1,463 self-catering units on non-domestic rates across all of Edinburgh. So, again, what has self-catering got to do with housing problems when it’s abundantly clear the far-far bigger issue is unoccupied properties?
As the Scotsman article states: “New research has revealed there are currently 47,333 empty houses in Scotland, with capital city Edinburgh accounting for over 7000 of that total.”
I think … I hope … I have made my point and that you can accept that perhaps there are more important issues that need parliamentary time than adding yet more legislative burden upon already heavily regulated self-caterers, most of whom are family-operated, rely on the income for their daily survival and keep the money within Scotland, unlike so many hotel groups that squirrel profits away to global shareholders.