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Caithness Community Web Site

Housing Index


The following is extracted from the Highland Council Housing strategies -

"Looking Ahead For Housing"

  • 185 new households are projected over the period of the Housing Plan (1998-2003), set against a population decline of 3%, arising mainly from outward migration.
  • Over the period of the Plan, 425 new single person households are projected, while larger households will fall by 243. Almost 60% of the housing stock has over 4 rooms so there is a lack of smaller housing for single person households.
  • The population is ageing, with growth of 403 people over retirement age during the Plan period while there are severe shortages of housing for older people – shortfalls of 66 sheltered houses and 81 very sheltered houses currently exist.
  • The 17 – 24 age group is projected to grow by 75 and youth unemployment stands at 20% but housing benefit changes will make private rented housing less affordable for young single people.
  • With an estimate of 30% of households unable to afford the cheapest houses on the market, at least 60 new houses for affordable renting are required for new households forming over the period of the Plan.
  • 557 households on the Council’s list are currently living in unsuitable housing.
  • Homelessness, although at lower level compared to other Areas in Highland, shows an increasing trend in Caithness.
  • The average price of open market house sales in 1996 was £40,827, having increased by 5% from 1989.
  • From 1990/91 to 1997/98 average Council have almost doubled (rising by 90%) to 37.73 per week. 60% of rents paid by tenants goes to pay for past borrowing to build or improve Council houses.
  • The Caithness Area contains over a third of all properties valued below £27,000 in the Highlands (based on Council Tax bands).
  • The outstanding debt for Council housing in the Area has doubled to £28million from 1980 to 1996 (since Right To Buy was introduced), while borrowing has decreased by 32% over this period.
  • 19% of all households are in receipt of housing benefit.
  • The housing benefit bill rose to £3.2m in 1995/96, increasing by 55% from 1991/92.
  • 51% of Council tenants are in receipt of housing benefit.
  • The proportion of housing benefit claimants in the private rented sector is increasing, where average rents are higher.
  • 24% of the Council’s stock has been sold (1002 houses), as at April 1996, through the Right To Buy.
  • The discount on all houses sold since 1981 to tenants cost the Council £10.5m.
  • Affordable rented housing declined by 676 houses, from 1981-1996. New building by the Council and from housing Associations has been insufficient to replace houses sold through the Right To Buy.
  • There are severe shortages of housing for older people – a shortage of 66 sheltered houses and 81 very sheltered houses – yet the elderly population will grow.
  • There is no supported accommodation in the Caithness area for frail elderly people, people with mental illness, young vulnerable people, abused women or for people who misuse drugs or alcohol.
  • In 1997/98 the Council introduced a Care and repair scheme to be managed by Pentland Housing Association.
  • 8% of the total housing stock is ineffective (vacant, second or holiday homes or caravans). There were 606 empty homes at the time of the Census in 1991.
  • 309 houses are below the Tolerable Standard (3% of the total stock). 293 of them are empty.
  • Half of the BTS stock was built prior to 1919.
  • 293 houses lack standard amenities.
  • 198 private houses were improved or repaired with Council grants in 1996/97.
  • The 1991 Census showed that 22% of all occupied housing had no central heating despite the Area suffering from severe climate exposure.
  • From 1990/91 to 1997/98 investment in council housing fell by 46% because of central government rules.

A copy of the complete Area Housing Profile can be obtained from the Council offices at Market Square, Wick. Tel 01955 607713 or 01955 6077702


Rotterdam Street, Thurso Tel 01847 805505 or 01847 894545

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