Families forced to leave Isles of Scillies amid housing crisis

01-11-21 Aerial shot of the Isles of Scilly-ITV News
The Isles of Scilly

A housing emergency has been declared on the Isles of Scilly as a lack of homes mean families are being forced off the islands.

The council is warning essential services - such as the hospital and the school - could soon be in "danger" due to a lack of homes.

It comes as 15 households are being forced to leave the islands due to having nowhere to live.

Councillors unanimously agreed to support an emergency motion recognising a housing crisis exists on the Isles of Scilly at a full council meeting this morning (January 21).

The motion was was put forward by Cllr Tim Dean, who is the lead member for housing for the Council of the Isles of Scilly.

He said the isles are facing unprecedented pressure on housing.

Part of the motion says: "We currently have 15 households who have presented themselves as homeless. This means that they will be without a home in March and will have to leave the islands.

"These are our friends, colleagues and family and many perform essential work on the islands. We are in real danger of putting essential services at risk, such as the hospital and the school.

"Without these, our islands will no longer be a viable place for our community to survive. Our population is declining and getting older. If we don’t act now, we will pay the pricein the coming years."

Credit: Sarah Hoddinott/EMPICS Sport

The letter goes on to say the housing crisis affects everyone on the island, from businesses, schools and health providers who are in need of accommodation for staff.

It adds: "The council is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit, as are pubs, restaurants, hotels, the Steamship company, the carriers, and the boatmen and letting agents. Without all of these services, the islands economy will change irreversibly.

"So, what can we do? One thing is for sure, we at the council can’t solve this crisis on our own. We need the help of the wider community. The Duchy of Cornwall, private landlords, second homeowners and even households with a spare room can help."

The council has bought a property on St Marys to try to ease the situation and plans to covert it to provide two properties with two bedrooms and one property with one bedroom.

"But it’s an expensive solution," the motion adds.

"We are a very small authority with very limited financial capability, but we felt it was the right thing to do given the current situation. However, we are acutely aware that it is not enough... we need help."

Hugh Town, Isles of Scilly Credit: Steve Spinner

Several properties on the island which have historically been rented out to people on a long-term basis have either been sold or converted to holiday lets as a result of the growth in staycations - or because of the boom in property prices because of the pandemic.

The council is also asking tenants to consider downsizing and is offering to help with moving costs and looking at financial incentives.

Plans going forward will include a public meeting to explore the current housing issues facing the islands and possible solutions.