Essential services on the Isles of Scilly are at risk as a housing emergency is declared

The Isles of Scilly have declared a housing crisis as essential workers are forced to return to the mainland as they have nowhere to live.

The archipelago is a vacation mecca attracting thousands of visitors each year, but has only around 2,200 inhabitants.

Now the Isles of Scilly Council has declared a housing emergency as the islands come under ‘unprecedented pressure’.

Read more: Isles of Scilly Council buys former guesthouse for affordable accommodation

Cllr Tim Dean, the senior housing member on the council, said there were not enough homes for essential workers.

The small local authority is counting on second home owners to help ease the crisis by freeing up accommodation after it was revealed that 15 households will be homeless in March and will have to leave the islands.

The council said the islands were in “real danger of jeopardizing essential services, such as hospital and school” and that without help from the islanders, its economy “would change irreversibly”.

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Cllr Dean said the crisis was affecting businesses, schools and healthcare providers able to employ foreign workers.

He told the BBC: “We are a small authority with very limited financial capacity, we are appealing to the islands and beyond.

“I know it sounds ridiculous, but if people have assets here that they could spare, anything anyone could do to help us, we would be more than interested.”

The council said it would offer financial assistance to islanders to downsize their homes if their property was larger than needed.

Cllr Dean added: ‘Housing is still an issue on the island, there are essential workers like doctors, nurses, teachers who are not currently living on the island as there is no accommodation for them.

“Many properties that were historically long-term rentals here have been sold as second homes or turned into vacation rentals, the ripple effect is that the island will become unviable as we don’t have staff to support the economy.

Michelle J. Kelley