Cost of private renting soars in Highlands and Islands

The cost of private rented housing in the Highlands and Islands has soared, official statistics show.

People across Scotland are being hammered with average mean monthly rents increasing substantially over the last year in many parts of the country.

Recent figures released by the Scottish Government show huge increases across the country, including in the Highlands and Islands, over the past eight years.

• One bedroom properties in Highlands and Islands increased by 13.4% from 2010 to 2018
• Two bedroom properties by 15.8%, a 1.3% rise in 2017/2018
• Three bedroom properties by 19.3%, 2.5% rise in 2017/2018
• Four bedroom properties by 17.5%, a 6.5% rise in 2017/18

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said it was clear that a radical change was needed to end Scotland’s housing crisis.

“I know that working people across the region are struggling to keep up with the rise in private rents and Scotland’s housing crisis is deepening with more people being made homeless,” she said.

“Almost half of all people made homeless last year due to rent arrears fell into debt with a private landlord.

“A Scottish Labour government will cap rent rises with a Mary Barbour law. We will also increase the supply of new homes by building 12,000 new homes for social-rent every year.”

Stromeferry Bypass

Highlands & Islands MSP Rhoda Grant seeks face to face meeting with Cabinet Secretary for Transport over Stromeferry bypass issue


Rhoda Grant MSP is seeking a meeting at the Scottish Parliament with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson, to discuss the short, medium and long term issues surrounding the Stromeferry bypass.


Rhoda said ” We are at an impasse now. Highland Council say they cannot afford to fund a long term safety solution to address all the problems associated with the Stromeferry bypass. They have only enough funding set aside to carry out essential remedial work to the rock face each year. Highland Council advise that as a result of the millions they spend on this remedial work each year that other essential services such as Education are missing out. The Government say they cannot help as this is an issue for the Local Authority to deal with as the route (The A890) is not a trunk route. So what we have here is a situation that has gone on and on year after year, a situation that gets kicked into the long grass and no one steps up to the plate to come up with a solution. All the time the route is being used by the public, including school children travelling the route twice per day and no one knows the true extent of the risks other than that they do exist.


I have written to the Government more than once on this issue, I have tabled Parliamentary Questions, I have tried to get the Government to take over responsibility for the road given it is the main route to the Uists and South West Ross, I have had dialogue with Highland Council and all that happens is the issue gets pushed back and fore and no solution is found.


Rhoda continued ” I am determined that this matter is addressed now before anyone is injured or killed on this road.  Given that Highland Council covers the largest geographical area of any local authority in the UK, with some 26,484 square km covering a third of Scotland, there are nearly 7,000km of regional roads, I am seeking to meet with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport to push hard for a solution to be found, whether that be the Government body, Transport Scotland, adopting this route as a trunk route, or the Government helping out Highland Council with extra funding.






Statement about DeeAnn Fitzpatrick from Rhoda Grant MSP

“I am absolutely appalled by the treatment of DeeAnn Fitzpatrick over the review into her case,” said Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.
“There are no two ways about it, it is an absolute cover up and no member of staff should be treated in this way.
“At the very least the First Minister should have invited DeeAnn to a private meeting to discuss the review and the conclusions, but what happened was that a public statement was issued before consulting with DeeAnn.
“I’ve written to the First Minister on a number of occasions asking for a meeting with her and with DeeAnn and I have requested that once again.
“The behaviour that DeeAnn experienced should be called out and not buried and the chapter closed without her seeing the full report.
“DeeAnn’s treatment by the Scottish Government is just abysmal.”

I have been told no extra funding for Skye and Lochalsh out of hours health services

The new Scottish Government Health Secretary is admitting that there will be no new investment in Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross health services when it comes to out-of-hours recommendations in the recent Sir Lewis Ritchie report.
Jeane Freeman has told me that “in the main” any investment will need to come from the budgets of NHS Highland, the Scottish Ambulance Service or NHS 24.
This has taken me aback by the frank admission, querying how improvements can be made without any extra money. I wrote to Ms Freeman asking about more resources, especially in the light of money made available for the Caithness health services redesign.
I am sure this will be a revelation for most patients on Skye who are expecting more from the Scottish Government,
I’ll be contacting constituents and the chief executives of the health authority, ambulance service and NHS 24 with copies of the letter and would like to know their reaction to this.
The message from the Government is really – we’ll make the right noises, we’ll consult the community and sign up to an independent report but don’t expect a penny more from us!
If the health authority is to get no extra money, then the Government need to answer how on earth they can maintain Portree and at the same time build a new hospital in Broadford?
The Health Secretary told me:
“This is not comparable as the Caithness budget relates to the reprovision of services across Caithness which includes the building of care hubs and the refurbishment of Caithness General Hospital and that expenditure is more comparable with the expenditure estimated for the new hospital build at Broadford.
“In the main the recommendations contained in Sir Lewis’s report are focussed on utilising existing services in a different way and these do not require significant investment.
“Where there will be investment, whether by NHS Highland, The Scottish Ambulance Service or NHS 24 in supporting the delivery of the recommendations in Sir Lewis’s report, I expect those boards to identify and account for that from within their existing allocations. Some of that expenditure may not be known as it will depend, in parts, on the discussions with the people in Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross as they coproduce solutions with the board.”


I seek answers to current and long term plans for Stromeferry Bypass.

I am fully aware of the current works being carried out at the Stromeferry bypass and equally aware that there can be delays of up to three hours. This fact is causing a lot of frustration locally and to many, the option of a 140 mile round trip is a non starter for what is normally a 30 minute 23 mile journey.

As a result I contacted a senior official within Highland Council and was told that on Thursday 27 September, there will be a community meeting in Lochcarron Village Hall to discuss the issues and frustration with the current works. There will be a drop in session between 2pm and 5.30pm and a presentation between 6pm and 7pm. Thereafter there will be a general question time, so I would encourage as many people as possible to attend. Unfortunately I will be in the Scottish Parliament and cannot attend in person.

With regards to the long term plans, I was afraid over the months and years that I have been involved that they may have got kicked into the long grass. This appears to have been the case. It appears that Highland Council are looking at three corridors of interest. The North route, (behind the village) the South route (Glen Udalain) and the online route – basically moving the rail line out into the sea area and moving the road to where the rail line currently is situated. The latest STAG (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance) has been submitted to the Scottish Government seeking support from the Government with regards funding. This appraisal is now on the desk of the current Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson MSP.

I understand that during Highland Council’s consideration of the capital five year spending plan in the spring of this year, that no finance was set aside for a new route. However there continues to be a £1m allocated for current works.

This saga has gone on too long. In my view this route should be a trunk road as it is the gateway to the islands via Skye and South West Ross.The Stomeferry Bypass was opened in 1970 and at that time was hailed as a great achievement. However, it was built along the Moine Thrust, a geological area of shattered and fragile rock. Over the period since the road was opened there has been many landslides and near misses. It is an absolute miracle that no one has been killed over the last 48 years.

This issue has dragged on and dragged on, school children travel the route everyday, people use the route to go to work daily and it is well used by tourist and sightseers alike. It is not acceptable that the local Government and the Scottish Government have not come up with a safe alternative by now and instead choose to bicker about whose responsibility it is.

I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson MSP, today and asked him to move this issue up his ‘to do list’ and bring to an end the uncertainty caused to motorists and parents of school children who use this route every day wondering if they will be struck by landslide or falling rocks.