University of St Andrews

Hoolachan Presents at Rural Housing Scotland Conference

Wednesday 06 April 2016

Jenny Hoolachan (CHR research assistant) presented a jointly written presentation (with Kim McKee) at the annual Rural Housing Scotland conference in Perth, Friday 26th February on their ongoing work on the issue of ‘Generation Rent’.

The event delegates covered all bases from academia to government, voluntary organisations and the private sector.  After a short welcome speech from Alastair Cameron (the convenor of Rural Housing Scotland) the conference opened with an announcement by the Minister for Housing and Welfare, Margaret Burgess MSP, of a new Rural Housing Fund and Highland Self-Build Loan Fund to promote the development of affordable housing in rural areas across all tenures.  As expected, affordable housing received significant attention throughout the day including a presentation from Ed Ferrari (University of Sheffield) on the same topic.  

The post-lunch slot was then dedicated to CHR’s work on Generation Rent.  After outlining the difficulties young people are facing in accessing homeownership and social housing, and the subsequent problems of living in the private rented sector, Jenny explained how our data have highlighted rural nuances.   These include the combined problems of small-scale employment and housing markets in rural communities which limit young people’s incomes and, in turn, their housing options.  Such limited housing options are compounded by the strong presence of second/holiday homes in certain areas which decrease the available housing stock for locals and drive up property and rental prices.  The conclusions drawn from this work are that not an awful lot has changed since the early-2000s when there was a flurry of research published on these issues.  Given that these challenges for young people have been highlighted for at least 20 years, along with the austerity measures implemented in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, we argue that policies relating to employment and housing need to take into account the additional disadvantages that come from living in rural areas.  There was time for one question which came from Professor Mark Shucksmith (University of Newcastle) who raised one of the most important issues that contextualises the challenges our data have highlighted - how have welfare cuts added to the difficulties faced by young people?  This is an ongoing area of investigation for CHR.

CHR has published a short briefing paper outlining these key issues.