Key workers struggling to find housing as Isles of Scilly holiday lets cause 'crisis'

The council says tourism provides a boost to the islands' economy - but it can also create housing problems.

Some key workers on the Isles of Scilly are unable to find anywhere to live due to the number of homes being used as tourist accommodation, according to the council.

Paul Masters, chief executive of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said the increase in people choosing to go on holiday in the UK had led to “some excitement and concern”.

He warned while it had provided a boost to the islands - which he said are reliant 100% on tourism - it had also led to some problems, including a lack of available housing.

Mr Masters made the comments at a meeting of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership board which took place on St Marys.

The chief executive said the number of places available for people working on the islands has reduced due to the number of properties being used as holiday accommodation.

He said: “A new generation of people coming to the islands who haven’t come before and it has put a spotlight on how the tourism market has moved on.

“But it has led to a real accommodation crisis where a lot of people have taken the opportunity to turn their accommodation into tourist accommodation or Airbnb accommodation.

“As a result, the number of places for key workers to stay has stayed down. I have no home for an air traffic controller, no home for a social worker or an environmental health officer. There is no shortage of work for people to work on the islands, but there is nowhere for them to stay.

He added: “There are many more people letting out properties, making money by using them as Airbnbs or whatever, and who can blame them? But that is reducing the amount of available accommodation for key workers and is increasing the housing crisis."

Mr Masters said there are also issues with the number of residents on the islands dwindling, which is causing workforce issues.

He said: “More worryingly is that the population has been gradually declining and ageing -similar to Cornwall, but more.”

The council boss also highlighted while some holiday accommodation providers on the Isles of Scilly are extending their season other businesses such as pubs and restaurants were already closing for the winter, mainly due to a lack of staff.

Mr Masters said there is a “danger” there could be accommodation available for visitors but no catering businesses.

Frances Brennan, LEP board member, said while there had been a skill shortage there was also a staff shortage.

She said that when she visited the islands and spoke to hotels and venues which said they were forced to close due to a lack of available staff as they could not get workforce from the EU anymore.

Credit: Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter