Help rural communities, argues Salmon Scotland
Industry body Salmon Scotland has repeated its call for government to ringfence part of the money raised from the sector, for housing support and other community funding in the Highlands and Islands.
The plea comes as the Scottish Government prepares to publish its annual Programme for Government, sets out its actions and legislative programme for the coming year and beyond.
With increased rents and charges levied by regulators, the Scottish Government expects to raise more than £20m annually from the fish farming sector, which will go like most other taxes into the general pot for state spending.
Salmon Scotland argues that £10m of this should be reserved for investment in rural communities in the Highlands and Islands, where shortages of accommodation and rising prices are making it difficult for local people to find somewhere to live, with knock-on effects for employers looking to recruit staff.
Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “The shortage of available, affordable housing in island and Highland communities is pricing people out of the housing market, and businesses are experiencing problems recruiting and retaining staff – leading to hard-to-fill vacancies, skills shortages and depopulation.
“Long-term house price rises are being exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis, and Scottish ministers should be looking at every lever available to them to make life easier for working people.”
He also pointed out that the Scottish salmon sector, which accounts for 2,500 local jobs, is a major contributor to the economy of the region.