Highlands and Islands Enterprise sub-group to challenge norms in tackling housing issues

Highlands and Islands Enterprise sub-group to challenge norms in tackling housing issues

Stuart Black, HIE chief executive (Photo: John Paul)

The first meeting of a sub-group set up to address the housing problem facing the Highlands and Islands took place in Inverness this month, with members agreeing to challenge the norms and bring about changes that will better support the housing needs of the region.

The 12-member sub-group was set up by the Highlands and Islands Regional Economic Partnership in recognition of the critical influence the housing crisis is having on businesses and communities across the region.

It is chaired by Stuart Black, chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), with membership including representatives from public agencies, local authorities and representative bodies, including those from the housebuilding industry.

In its first meeting, members discussed what the group’s priorities should be, as well as a rural and island housing action plan and resources required to make real progress.

They agreed to focus on actions to address the business need for suitable accommodation to be available for existing employees and new recruits, enabling businesses to grow and more people to remain in the region.

Actions will include gathering data on economic activity over the next 10 years, including jobs growth projections, as well as on the region’s building companies and labour force. This information will be used to inform any potential interventions.

Speaking after the meeting, Stuart Black said: “Housing is a huge issue for the Highlands and Islands and one that impacts the extent to which many different organisations can deliver progress for the region, so it has to be addressed. Achieving success however will take collaboration across a wide range of interests, and that’s why this sub-group was set up.

“There is a big job to be done and it will take some considerable effort to make a real difference. The role of the sub-group is to speed up the process; to focus on the links between housing, jobs and the economy, and to draw from best practice. We’re all very pleased to have got things moving and looking forward to identifying where we can make the most impact in the short, medium and long terms.”

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