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Friday, February 23, 2024

Place, Housing and The Future

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Monday 14 November at Lochaber Ideas Week 2022.

Lochaber Ideas Week, the region’s annual flagship business event, is an industry call to action that celebrates local business and the wider Lochaber community with a number of sector focused days which, this year, include housing and construction, aquaculture, food and drink, and tourism, augmented by informative workshops, and plenty of networking and ideas sharing opportunities. 

It focuses on key trends impacting the region. 

Housing is the richest conversation in Lochaber right now and ‘Place, Housing and the Future’ is the opening session of the week on Monday morning.

With insights from local business leaders – 56 Degree Insight, Mowi, The Highland Council, TSL Contractors, and Cairngorms Business Partnership – and the findings of Lochaber’s recent Housing Needs Assessment survey (published 12/21), this event takes a dive into ‘place’. 

It will compare the survey results with the Cairngorm and Skye surveys, tackle the lack of housing for valued workers and the impact that this is having on both business and community. 

It will also discuss these challenges while plotting the next steps, with time for conversations around planning for housing change and the cost of living.

The session includes a Q&A from the audience.

Lochaber’s recent Housing Needs Assessment survey can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here

Background to Lochaber’s Housing Needs Assessment survey

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce commissioned 56 Degree Insight to undertake a survey of businesses during October and November 2021. 

The aim was to gain a clear, and robust view on the scale of the housing problem within Lochaber and establish evidence on its potential negative impacts for business.

Invites were sent to a total of 692 businesses in Lochaber with a total of 126 responding by the final deadline (a response rate of 18%). 

The range of types of business in different sectors and of different sizes responded.

As such the findings can be taken as a robust, representative view of the Lochaber business community.

Some key findings from Lochaber’s Housing Needs Assessment survey:

Housing requirements for the workforce

  • Three quarters of businesses feel that there is a need for more short term, basic accommodation for workers coming to the area.


  • Two thirds of businesses are currently experiencing problems recruiting staff or retaining existing staff
  • Three quarters expect recruitment to be a problem during the next 12 months – a lack of accommodation is seen as the main cause of the issue
  • A lack of accommodation is seen as one of the main causes of recruitment issues. 80% feel that a shortage of housing/accommodation is impacting on their efforts to recruit staff.
  • 62% of businesses have offered a job to an individual who has decided not to take the role.
  • On average, 1 in 4 people offered roles do not take up the offer.
  • A lack of housing in the area and/or transport from the place they live is the most commonly recorded reason.
  • The majority expect recruitment issues caused by the accommodation shortage to worsen in future if no action is taken.
  • Beyond the hard business impacts, recruitment impacts have an effect on the wellbeing of staff and the wider community.

Staff retention

  • A lack of affordable housing is increasingly a problem when it comes to both the retention of existing staff and the recruitment of new employees.
  • 65% feel that a shortage of housing/accommodation is impacting on their efforts to retain staff.
  • If a solution to the provision of appropriate housing for people employed in the area is not found, it is feared that this issue could significantly constrain the potential growth of many businesses in the area or even threaten the survival of some.

Business impact

  • Four in five state that the lack of accommodation is having an impact on their business.
  • Impacted positions are across sectors, most often in lower and middle income bands and typically undertaken by younger people.
  • Over half of businesses say the issue will definitely or possibly impact on their plans to invest in the area.
  • 59% of businesses have encountered issues other than direct staff recruitment/ retention problems.

Highland Housing register

The Highland Housing Register is a single housing list shared between Highland Council and five Registered Social Landlords (also known as Housing Associations).

  • Only around 2 in 5 respondents had heard of the Highland Housing register and of these the minority were not aware of any of their staff being registered, or staff who require housing not being registered.
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