Publication - Research and analysis

Residential Mobile Homes in Scotland

Published: 11 Dec 2007
Part of:
Research
ISBN:
978075596865

This research provides an up-to-date picture on the use of mobile homes as dwellings, examines the nature of the mobile home sector and aims to inform how future policy can be shaped.

85 page PDF

1.5 MB

85 page PDF

1.5 MB

Contents
Residential Mobile Homes in Scotland
Chapter Two The Number of Residential Mobile Homes in Scotland

85 page PDF

1.5 MB

Chapter Two The Number of Residential Mobile Homes in Scotland

Introduction

2.1 This chapter provides an overview of residential mobile homes in Scotland. The chapter discusses the number of residential mobile homes and examines the characteristics of households who live in this sector. The chapter then moves on to estimate the number of individual mobile homes in three case study areas of Highland, Argyll and Bute and Midlothian.

The number of residential mobile homes in Scotland

2.2 The 2001 Census counted 4,547 households living in caravans, mobile or other temporary structures (Table 2.1, below). The number of households living in caravans and mobile homes recorded by the Census will be somewhat lower than this figure, since the census definition included house boats and tents within the term 'other temporary structures'. Further, the research excludes Gypsies and Travellers residing on council owned sites, who were also included in the total census figure. For example, 14 of the 64 households in Edinburgh in 2001 were recorded by the Census as living on a Gypsy/Traveller site owned by the local authority. In another instance, the survey of local authorities showed that there were 20 pitches available for Gypsy/Travellers on a council site in Fife.

2.3 The 2001 Census data showed that a very small proportion of the population in Scotland lived in caravans, mobile homes or other temporary structures (0.21 per cent). However, there were concentrations in the number of caravans and mobile homes in some local authority areas. Highland Council area had the highest number of caravans and mobile homes (501), followed by Midlothian (365), Aberdeenshire (345) and Glasgow (321). The smallest numbers of caravans and mobile homes were recorded in authorities such as Dundee (23), Clackmannanshire (15), West Dunbartonshire (38) and East Dunbartonshire (38).

2.4 The local authority with the highest proportion of households living in caravans or mobile homes was Midlothian, where 1.1 per cent of all households lived in these types of accommodation. There were other concentrations in authorities such as Moray, Highland and Argyll and Bute.

2.5 A comparison with Census data from previous decades showed that there had been an increase in the number of households living in caravans and mobile homes between 1971 and 1991 (Table 2.2, below). This trend was reversed between 1991 and 2001, and the number of households in this form of accommodation fell by 1,882 households. However, it is difficult to conclude whether this trend reflected an actual fall in the number of households living in this form of accommodation, or how far other factors could account for this pattern. For example, the incidence of Foot and Mouth at the time of the 2001 Census enumeration required special arrangements to be put in place. Census forms were posted out to households where normal hand delivery by Enumerators was not possible because the area was infected or where access was limited. Further, enumerators did not deliver forms to any livestock-holding premises, or to any rural premises where the approach would involve driving off a metalled road in infected areas. Instead, enumerators covered villages accessible by public roads. Whilst an analysis of output areas shows that the 2001 Census picked up a number of individual units, it is possible that the special provisons resulting from the Foot and Mouth crisis may have affected the ability of enumerators in the more rural and remote areas of Scotland to identify some units in isolated locations.

Table 2.1 Proportion of all households in caravans, mobile homes or other temporary structures

Council Area

All households

Households in caravan or other mobile or temporary structure

Percentage of all households living in caravan or other mobile or temporary structure

Aberdeen

97013

139

0.14

Aberdeenshire

90736

345

0.38

Angus

46945

161

0.34

Argyll & Bute

38969

293

0.75

Clackmannanshire

20558

15

0.07

Dumfries & Galloway

63807

188

0.29

Dundee

66908

23

0.03

East Ayrshire

50346

48

0.09

East Dunbartonshire

42206

38

0.09

East Lothian

38157

45

0.12

East Renfrewshire

34950

44

0.13

Edinburgh

204683

64

0.03

Eilean Siar

11275

51

0.45

Falkirk

62598

50

0.08

Fife

150274

283

0.19

Glasgow

271596

321

0.12

Highland

89533

501

0.56

Inverclyde

36691

53

0.14

Midlothian

32922

365

1.11

Moray

35803

261

0.73

North Ayrshire

58726

162

0.28

North Lanarkshire

132619

173

0.13

Orkney Islands

8342

50

0.60

Perth & Kinross

58323

241

0.41

Renfrewshire

75355

37

0.05

Scottish Borders

47371

59

0.12

Shetland Islands

9111

49

0.54

South Ayrshire

48748

97

0.20

South Lanarkshire

126496

184

0.15

Stirling

35508

120

0.34

West Dunbartonshire

40781

38

0.09

West Lothian

64896

49

0.08

SCOTLAND

2192246

4547

0.21

Notes to table Source: 2001 Census

Table 2.2 Changes in the number of households in non-permanent accommodation1971- 2001

Year

Households in non permanent accommodation

1971

5250

1981

6356

1991

6429

2001

4547

Notes to table Source: Censuses, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001.

2.6 Table 2.3 shows the number of caravans and mobile homes, comparing the results from three different sources of data: the 2001 Census, the postal survey of local authorities, and an analysis of directories and websites. The local authority survey identified a total of 4,121 residential mobile homes. This total included sites licensed for residential use, residential units on mixed sites with holiday pitches as well, individual residential mobile homes used by staff on sites licensed for holiday use, and an estimate of individual units within authorities. However, it should be noted that few respondents to the local authority survey felt in a position to estimate the number of individual mobile homes within their areas. Therefore, the total of 4,121 represents an underestimate of the total number of residential mobile homes in Scotland. The analysis of directories and websites showed the number of pitches in the larger sites in Scotland, although, again, this is an underestimate of the total, since the directories did not always record the actual number of pitches on some of the sites.

Table 2.3: Numbers of caravans and mobile homes by local authority

Council Area

Number of Caravans/mobile homes

2001 Census (Households in caravan or other mobile or temporary structure) 1

Local Authority survey (pitches) 2

Directories/ websites (pitches) 3

Aberdeen

139

269

267

Aberdeenshire

345

302

130

Angus

161

258

189

Argyll & Bute

293

144

105

Clackmannanshire

15

14

0

Dumfries & Galloway

188

374

331

Dundee

23

0

0

East Ayrshire

48

50

0

East Dunbartonshire

38

25

29

East Lothian

45

40

5

East Renfrewshire

44

75

63

Edinburgh

64

5

0

Eilean Siar

51

-

0

Falkirk

50

54

0

Fife

283

269

184

Glasgow

321

474

0

Highland

501

98

253

Inverclyde

53

60

43

Midlothian

365

382

378

Moray

261

381

223

North Ayrshire

162

79

139

North Lanarkshire

173

156

141

Orkney Islands

50

18

0

Perth & Kinross

241

175

188

Renfrewshire

37

0

0

Scottish Borders

59

150

76

Shetland Islands

49

11

0

South Ayrshire

97

134

74

South Lanarkshire

184

2

50

Stirling

120

83

75

West Dunbartonshire

38

0

0

West Lothian

49

39

39

SCOTLAND

4547

4121

2982

Notes to table Sources: 1 2001 Census; 2 Local authority survey; 3 analysis of websites and directories

2.7 There were some quite large discrepancies apparent between the different sources of data in a number of authorities. For example, the Census recorded 188 caravans, mobile homes and other temporary structures in Dumfries and Galloway in 2001. However, an analysis of directories and websites showed that there were 331 pitches in 2006, with data from the local authority recording a total of 374. There were a number of cases where directories and websites had totals higher than local authorities. One possible reason for discrepancies between local authority totals and numbers recorded in directories and websites is that the latter may have recorded the maximum total number of pitches that a site is licensed to hold, whereas local authorities may have recorded the actual number of pitches occupied. A number of authorities do not have any sites licensed for residential occupation, such as Dundee and Renfrewshire.

2.8 However, the data does need to be treated with some caution. The survey of local authorities identified 222 licensed residential sites across Scotland (including mixed residential and holiday sites). However, most local authorities make returns to the Royal Environmental Health Institute in Scotland as part of its annual survey of Environmental Health which is described in its annual report. Table 2.4 shows the number of licensed residential caravan sites recorded by the Royal Environmental Health Institute between 2001 and 2005. The figures revealed quite wide fluctuations in the number of residential caravan sites, year on year, in Scotland. Nevertheless, the totals in Table 2.4 were consistently above the total figure for the survey of local authorities, suggesting an underestimate of the total number of licensed sites in Scotland in the latter survey, and by default the total number of residential caravans on licensed sites. Without undertaking further work it was not possible to identify the specific reasons for these variations. One possibility was that the number of sites does fluctuate quite markedly over time, especially the very small sites. For example, Western Isles noted that although there were 165 residential caravan sites in 2001, many of these sites had subsequently closed because of an inability to afford the work necessary to meet site license standards (Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, 2004).

Table 2.4 Number of licensed residential caravan sites

Year

Number of local authorities making returns

Number of licensed residential caravan sites

2004/5

30

235

2003/4

32

313

2002/3

31

287

2001/2

26

272

Notes to table
Source: Royal Environmental Health Institute in Scotland, Annual Surveys 2001/2 - 2004/5.

2.9 Three of the responding authorities noted that their areas contained a privately owned Gypsy/Traveller sites (see appendix three for further information available on privately owned Gypsy/Traveller sites). However, two other authorities noted sites for show people associated with travelling fairgrounds within their areas, with Glasgow, in particular, having a heavy concentration of sites for show people.

2.10 The overwhelming majority of sites were privately owned. Two sites were recorded as being in local authority ownership; one in the Shetlands and one in Orkney. One authority highlighted that a site within their area was in the process of a community buyout by its residents. The licenses for most sites were permanent, with only four sites with a temporary license (all in Stirling Council area).

2.11 Local authorities stated that park owners complied, in general, with the conditions of site licenses, and no authorities recorded that park owners did not comply. However, two authorities did note that some breaches had occurred for issues such as: faded fire point signs; omitting to display a copy of the site license; disrepair to roadways; provision of electrical certificate for the site and fire extinguishers not being inspected on an annual basis. One authority that had taken actions against a site owner expressed disappointment with the level of the penalty that was imposed.

2.12 Most authorities noted that they were not aware of any residential occupation on holiday parks that are only licensed for holiday use, although three other authorities stated that they did know of situations where this had occurred. Of these three, one authority noted that there was only anecdotal evidence of residential occupation of pitches on parks only licensed for holiday use in their area. In another instance, there has been recent press coverage of another authority, Perth and Kinross, sending letters to residents to request that they stop using their homes as a main residence on a park only licensed for holiday homes (Simpson, 2006). Another authority noted that there was a growing demand for park home living on sites licensed for holiday use, with residents occupying park homes for the period allowed, and then vacating their homes. This authority had responded by granting licences for eleven months in any one year, which minimised the amount of time that residents had to spend away from their park home.

2.13 The majority of authorities stated that they were not aware of any unlicensed sites in their areas. However, three respondents commented on unlicensed sites within their authorities. One respondent noted that there probably were unlicensed sites in their area, but that they had not actively looked. Another respondent highlighted that unlicensed sites tended to be hidden away and that authorities were often unaware of their existence unless someone brought the site to the authority's attention - for example, if a resident of a mobile home made a complaint about the site to the local authority. This respondent noted that an unlicensed site had recently been brought to this authority's attention. In another instance, an authority noted the presence of one unlicensed site with 5 mobile homes, but that the site owner was in the process of sorting this out.

The characteristics of households living in residential mobile homes in Scotland

2.14 This section of the report sets out an analysis of 2001 Census data to show how households who live in caravans, mobile homes and other temporary structures compare with all households in Scotland. The analysis also explores the characteristics of households who live in caravans and mobile homes in Scotland with their counterparts in England and Wales.

Tenure

2.15 Residents of mobile homes in Scotland were much more likely to be renting their home from a landlord than in England or Wales (Table 2.5). Three quarters of residents of mobile homes in England and Wales were owner occupiers compared with just over half of residents in Scotland. In contrast, just over a third of residents in Scotland rented their mobile home from a private landlord, compared with nearly a fifth of residents in England and Wales. Less than one in ten residents in Scotland rented their mobile home from a social landlord. It is possible that the number of residents who recorded that they were living in social rented accommodation in the Census were Gypsy/Travellers, living on local authority owned sites. As noted in paragraph 2.10 above, only two authorities noted mobile home residents who were not Gypsy/Travellers living on local authority owned sites in their areas.

Table 2.5 Tenure of households in caravans, mobile homes and other temporary structures by country

Country

Owned
(%)

Social rented
(%)

Private rented or living rent free
(%)

Total
(%)

Scotland

All Households

62.6

27.2

10.3

100

Caravans/mobile homes

56.0

9.5

34.5

100

England & Wales

All households

68.9

19.1

12.0

100

Caravans/mobile homes

75.0

6.9

18.1

100

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

2.16 The proportions of mobile home residents who either owned or rented their homes varied considerably between the case study areas (Table 2.6). Highland council area was quite close to the average for Scotland in terms of the proportion of households in mobile homes who rented from private landlords (36.7 per cent and 34.5 per cent respectively). The proportion of households in mobile homes renting privately in Argyll and Bute was slightly higher than the average for Scotland, at 40.3 per cent. In contrast, the proportion of households in mobile homes renting from private landlords in Midlothian was much lower, at 17.5 per cent. Instead, mobile home residents in this authority were much more likely to own their homes, compared with the Highlands or Argyll and Bute. Further, mobile home residents in Midlothian were more likely to own their own homes than the general population in this authority (although these mobile home residents also rent the stance from park owners). In this respect mobile home dwellers in Midlothian were much closer to the characteristics of mobile home residents in England and Wales.

Table 2.6 Tenure by case study area

Owned
(%)

Social rented
(%)

Private rented or living rent free
(%)

Total
(%)

Scotland

All Households

62.6

27.2

10.3

100

Caravans/mobile homes

56.0

9.5

34.5

100

Argyll and Bute

All Households

64.6

21.2

14.1

100

Caravan/mobile homes

50.5

9.2

40.3

100

Highland

All Households

65.8

21.6

12.7

100

Caravans/mobile homes

61.1

2.0

36.7

100

Midlothian

All Households

63.5

30.0

6.5

100

Caravans/mobile homes

77.8

4.7

17.5

100

Notes to table Source: 2001 Census

2.17 A proportion of residents who rent privately were living on licensed sites. For example, even though Midlothian has a relatively low proportion of mobile home residents who rent privately, it does contain one site where residents had Short Assured Tenancies. The local authority with the highest proportion of mobile home residents who rented their homes from a private landlord was Aberdeen. Seventy three per cent of all mobile home residents in this authority rented their homes from private landlords (See Appendix Four). This authority contained a number of park home sites where residents rented their homes on Short Assured Tenancies.

2.18 However, in their written submission to the Communities Committee Report on the Housing (Scotland) Bill, Shelter drew attention to the situation for residents who rent privately and who do not live on licensed sites (Scottish Parliament, 2005), with a particular concern about the conditions in which some residents may be living. This submission highlighted that while the changes brought about by the Housing Scotland Act (2006) would primarily benefit residents of mobile homes who live on licensed sites, it would not address the circumstances of people who rent their homes and who live outwith these sites.

2.19 As noted later on in this chapter, a difficulty for agencies in attempting to establish how far people who are renting their mobile homes may be living in poor conditions is that many of these dwellings are hidden from official view. Related to this issue is the number of people living in mobile homes that are tied to employment, including accommodation provided for seasonal workers. Recent research noted the use of mobile homes, as well as other forms of accommodation, to house migrant workers and highlighted a number of issues including the high cost compared with the quality of accommodation, overcrowding and the difficulty of finding appropriate accommodation (de Lima et al, 2005). It is important to stress that the research by de Lima et al, identified positive as well as negative experiences of accommodation for migrant workers, and that the quality of bricks and mortar accommodation may not necessarily be any better than that found in mobile homes. Nevertheless, the fact remains that mobile homes used by seasonal workers are exempt from licensing under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. Further, mobile homes that are privately rented are also currently excluded from landlord registration. Thus it is difficult for local authorities to monitor standards of accommodation for workers living in mobile homes provided by employers.

2.20 Baxter et al (1997) highlighted a number of cases of Housing Benefit being restricted for people who rent their mobile homes as a result of the poor quality of the accommodation offer, which may result in tenants being expected to make up any shortfall between Housing Benefit and the rent. However, a site owner in the Highlands interviewed for this research described the financial circumstances of many of the tenants on his park, and the lack of any viable alternative accommodation in the area for them. This owner noted the relatively low level of Housing Benefit that was set for mobile homes, and that his tenants lacked the means to make up any potential shortfall between Housing Benefit and rent charged, meaning that, in practice, the rent was effectively whatever Housing Benefit would cover.

Household type

2.21 The type of household living in a mobile home varied between Scotland and other countries within the UK (Table 2.7). For example, residents living in mobile homes in England and Wales were more likely to be older than in Scotland. Forty per cent of households living in a mobile home in England and Wales were pensioners compared with 24 per cent of residents in Scotland. Instead, residents of mobile homes in Scotland were more likely to be single people under pensionable age, with 35 per cent of all households living in a mobile home made up of this group. The equivalent figure for England and Wales was 23 per cent.

Table 2.7 Household type by country

Country

One person
(%)

All Pensioner
(%)

Couples without children
(%)

Couples With children
(%)

Lone Parents
(%)

Other
(%)

Total
(%)

Scotland

All Households

17.9

23.5

16.7

26.3

10.5

5.1

100

Caravans/mobile homes

35.4

24.0

16.7

11.6

7.3

5.1

100

England & Wales

All households

15.6

23.8

17.7

27.1

9.6

6.3

100

Caravans/mobile homes

22.8

39.6

19.9

9.0

5.3

3.5

100

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

2.22 Table 2.8 shows that one person households were a strong feature of mobile home dwellers across the case study areas. For example, whilst 16.6 per cent of the population in the Highlands was composed of one person households, the proportion of single people living in mobile homes rose to 40.1 per cent. Instead, fewer pensioners tended to live in mobile homes in the Highlands compared with Argyll and Bute or Midlothian. Also, families with children were much less likely to live in mobile homes across the case study areas, compared with the profile of the general population in these authorities. However, discussions with one agency suggested that the proportion of children spending time in mobile homes may be higher than statistics suggest. This agency noted that in their area of the Highlands, children often spent time living in caravans occupied by one parent of a separated couple.

Table 2.8 Household type by case study area

One person
(%)

All Pensioner
(%)

Couples without children
(%)

Couples With children
(%)

Lone Parents
(%)

Other
(%)

Total
(%)

Scotland

All Households

17.9

23.5

16.7

26.3

10.5

5.1

100

Caravans/mobile homes

35.4

24.0

16.7

11.6

7.3

4.1

100

Argyll & Bute

All households

16.0

26.7

18.6

25.8

8.2

4.7

100

Caravans/mobile homes

39.9

24.2

14.7

11.9

4.8

4.4

100

Highland

All households

16.6

23.4

18.9

27.2

8.9

5.1

100

Caravans/mobile homes

40.1

16.8

20.2

12.8

3.6

6.6

100

Midlothian

All households

12.4

22.2

18.5

31.2

11.0

4.7

100

Caravans/mobile homes

34.5

26.5

18.6

7.4

9.0

3.8

100

Notes to table Source: 2001 Census

Age of mobile home residents

2.23 Table 2.9 highlights how the age profile of residents of mobile homes varied from the general population. Residents of caravans and mobile homes in Scotland were more likely to be older than the general population. Twenty six per cent of residents in caravans and mobile homes were aged 60 and over compared with twenty one per cent of the general population. However, this trend was much more apparent in England and Wales, where forty three per cent of residents who lived in caravans and mobile homes were aged 60 and over compared with twenty one per cent of the overall population of England and Wales.

Table 2.9 Age of all persons in households by country

0-15
(%)

16-34
(%)

35-49
(%)

50-59
(%)

60+
(%)

Total
(%)

Scotland

All Households

19.5

24.8

22.3

12.8

20.6

100

Caravans/mobile homes

14.0

20.5

21.8

16.9

26.4

100

England & Wales

All households

20.4

24.8

21.5

12.8

20.5

100

Caravans/mobile homes

10.4

14.3

14.6

17.9

42.6

100

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

2.24 The age profile of people living in caravans varied between Midlothian, Argyll and Bute and Highland (Table 2.10, below). There was a higher proportion of people living in caravans in Midlothian who were aged 60 and over compared with the other two case study areas. Further, older people were much more likely to live in caravans in Midlothian than the overall population of this authority. Nearly a third of people living in caravans in Midlothian were aged 60 and over compared with about one fifth of the general population in Midlothian. In contrast, younger people were far less likely to live in caravans in Midlothian than the other two case study areas. With regard to Argyll and Bute and Highland, people living in caravans tended to mirror the age profile of the general populations of these two authorities much more closely than was the case in Midlothian.

Long term limiting illness

2.25 Residents in caravans and mobile homes were more likely than the general population to have a limiting long term illness. Whilst 20 per cent of all households in Scotland had a limiting long term illness, the equivalent figure for mobile home residents was 29 per cent (Table 2.11, below). To a certain extent, this trend may reflect the age profile of mobile home residents, with households living in mobile homes more likely to be made up of older people.

Table 2.10: Age of all persons in households by case study area

0-15
(%)
16-34
(%)
35-49
(%)
50-59
(%)
60+
(%)
Total
(%)

Scotland

All Households

19.5

24.8

22.3

12.8

20.6

100

Caravans/mobile homes

14.0

20.5

21.8

16.9

26.7

100

Argyll & Bute

All households

18.7

21.0

21.5

14.2

24.6

100

Caravans/mobile homes

13.0

22.6

24.0

12.2

28.1

100

Highland

All households

19.6

21.4

22.6

14.2

22.3

100

Caravans/mobile homes

14.2

23.8

26.7

15.8

19.5

100

Midlothian

All households

21.0

22.6

22.7

13.4

20.2

100

Caravans/mobile homes

10.5

15.8

20.9

21.7

31.1

100

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

Table 2.11 People with a limiting long-term illness by country

People with a limiting long -term illness
(%)

People without a limiting long -term illness
(%)

Total
(%)

Scotland

All Households

19.7

80.3

100

Caravans/mobile homes

29.1

70.9

100

England & Wales

All households

17.7

82.3

100

Caravans/mobile homes

30.8

69.2

100

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

Table 2.12 Proportion of people within age groups reporting a long term limiting illness in Scotland

Age

0-15
(%)

16-34
(%)

35-49
(%)

50-59
(%)

60-64
(%)

65-84
(%)

85+
(%)

All households

4.6

7.9

14.3

26.7

39.2

50.9

73.9

Caravans/mobile homes

4.2

14.3

23.7

37.5

48.6

53.3

72.4

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

2.26 However, Table 2.12 (previous page) also shows that younger people living in mobile homes were more likely to have a long term limiting illness compared with the general population. For example, 14 per cent of people aged between 16 and 34 who lived in a caravan reported a long-term limiting illness, compared with about 8 per cent of the general population. This trend was apparent up to the age of between 60 and 64, where 49 per cent who lived in a caravan reported a long-term limiting illness, compared with about 39 per cent of the general population. However, there was a greater convergence amongst older people in the proportions of mobile home residents and the general population. This issue will be discussed in greater depth in the next chapter, which describes residents' views and experiences of living in mobile homes.

2.27 A third of households living in mobile homes in Midlothian reported a long term limiting illness, compared with nearly a quarter of households in both Argyll and Bute and the Highlands (Table 2.13). This figure perhaps reflected the age profile of people living in mobile homes in Midlothian, with a higher proportion of this population aged 60 and over than was the case in both Argyll and Bute and Highland.

Table 2.13 People with a limiting long-term illness by case study area

People with a limiting long-term illness
(%)

People without a limiting long-term illness
(%)

Total
(%)

Scotland

All Households

19.7

80.3

100

Caravans/mobile homes

29.1

70.9

100

Argyll & Bute

All Households

19.5

80.5

100

Caravans/mobile homes

24.2

75.8

100

Highland

All Households

17.6

82.4

100

Caravans/mobile homes

23.6

76.4

100

Midlothian

All Households

18.4

81.6

100

Caravans/mobile homes

33.2

66.8

100

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

Central heating

2.28 Residents of mobile homes in Scotland were far less likely to have central heating than their counterparts in England or Wales. Table 2.14, below, shows that 43 per cent of residents in mobile homes in Scotland did not have central heating, compared with 20 per cent of residents in England and Wales.

Table 2.14 Households with central heating by country

Tenure

Central heating
(%)

No central heating
(%)

Total
(%)

Scotland:

All Households

92.8

7.1

100

Caravan/mobile home

57.2

42.8

100

England & Wales:

All Households

91.2

8.8

100

Caravan/mobile home

80.1

19.9

100

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

2.29 Tenure seemed to be an important factor in whether residents had central heating or not. Table 2.15 shows that seventy four per cent of residents who rented from a social landlord had central heating, as did 62 per cent of owner occupiers. However, this amenity was not available to the majority of residents who rented from private landlords (fifty one per cent of tenants who rented unfurnished property and sixty per cent of tenants who rented furnished mobile homes respectively).

Table 2.15 Households with central heating in Scotland, by tenure

Tenure

Central heating
(%)

No central heating
(%)

Total

All Households

All households

92.8

7.1

100

Caravan/mobile home

57.2

42.8

100

Owned

All households

94.1

5.8

100

Caravan/mobile home

61.9

38.0

100

Social rented

All households

93.8

6.2

100

Caravan/mobile home

73.5

26.5

100

Private rented (Unfurnished)

All households

76.2

23.8

100

Caravan/mobile home

48.9

51.0

100

Private rented (Furnished)

All households

79.7

20.3

100

Caravan/mobile home

40.3

59.7

100

Living rent free

All households

90.2

9.8

100

Caravan/mobile home

54.9

45.0

100

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

2.30 The proportions of households living in caravans who had central heating varied considerably between the case study areas (Table 2.16, below). Approaching two thirds of all households living in caravans in both Argyll and Bute and the Highlands did not have central heating (66 per dent and 63 per cent respectively). The situation in Midlothian was very different, and 83 per cent of households living in caravans had central heating.

Table 2.16 Households with central heating be case study area

Central heating
(%)

No central heating
(%)

Total
(%)

Scotland

All households

92.8

7.1

100

Caravan/mobile home

57.2

42.8

100

Argyll and Bute

All households

90.6

9.4

100

Caravan/mobile home

34.5

65.5

100

Highland

All households

92.8

7.2

100

Caravan/mobile home

36.9

63.1

100

Midlothian

All households

97.4

2.6

100

Caravan/mobile home

82.7

17.3

100

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

Identifying individual mobile homes

2.31 Case study areas were identified to investigate the extent of individual units in three local authority areas. Three localities were identified in Highland Council area, including the Ardnamurchan peninsula, South Skye and thirdly Glenelg and Arnisdale. Three areas in Argyll and Bute were examined: Tiree, the Ross of Mull, and Craignish. The area around Gorebridge in Midlothian was also examined to identify individual mobile homes (see Table 1.1).

2.32 One possible source of local data on individual mobile homes is housing needs surveys, where questions on current accommodation may uncover some indication of mobile home living within the survey area. However, an agency that regularly undertook housing needs surveys noted that because caravans are often hidden away in remote locations or in people's gardens, then an approach using a postal survey, or even a door to door survey, can often miss households living in this form of accommodation. Indeed, many units tend to be tucked away within the landscape, taking advantage of shelter as much as possible to protect them from the prevailing winds. Thus, identifying the number of units is that much more difficult, due to the susceptibility of mobile homes to the weather, especially in Scotland. This respondent emphasised that it was important to supplement survey work with discussions with local people to identify households living in mobile homes. An alternative source of local information in the Glenelg and Arnisdale area was derived from the use of Personal Housing Plans by the Rural Housing Service, which also identified people living in mobile homes in this area.

2.33 The difficulty in identifying the residential occupation of individual mobile homes was also noted by a respondent from the Scottish Assessors Association. This respondent highlighted that the residential occupation of some units occasionally only came to light if the occupiers made a claim to a local authority for Housing Benefit, or Council Tax Benefit. However, the identification of mobile homes in residential use remains an important task for local authorities, given not only the reported poor conditions of some mobile homes, but also the vulnerability of mobile homes to incidents such as fires. A fire in a mobile home is 16 times more likely to lead to death and injury than in a house ( www.wiltshirefirebrigade.com/Fire_Safety/).

The Highlands

2.34 Information from Highland Council's waiting list for council housing recorded that there were 210 applicants who were currently living in caravans in July 2006. Table 2.17 shows that there were concentrations of applicants in particular areas of the Highlands. Just over a quarter of all applicants living in a caravan were living in Lochaber. There were also large numbers of applicants living in caravans in Dingwall, Inverness and Portree.

Table 2.17 Applicants for Highland council housing currently living in caravans, July 2006

By Highland Council Area Office,

Number of applications from residents in caravans

Badenoch and Strathspey

10

Dingwall

36

Inverness

42

Lochaber

56

Nairn

4

Portree

32

Sutherland

14

Thurso

6

Wick

10

Highland Council total

210

Notes to table
Source: Highland Council

2.35 Further, the waiting list revealed that over one quarter of these households (28 per cent) had points for poor housing conditions, whilst nearly one third (32 per cent) had points for medical conditions. Even if the figures from the Census are an underestimate of the total number of units in the Highland area (501), the number of people living in caravans who are on the waiting list relative to this total is indicative of their dissatisfaction with this form of accommodation. A local authority respondent noted that many residents of mobile homes in the Highlands tended to be single and a low priority for council housing. This latter point highlights a potential drawback in the use of waiting list data as a measure of housing needs. Research has shown that some people are put off from applying for social rented accommodation because they know they are a low priority for rehousing. Furthermore, potential applicants in remote rural areas are also less likely to apply for social rented housing in communities where the stock of social rented accommodation is either absent, very low, or rarely comes up for relet.

2.36 An analysis of output areas from the 2001 Census showed that the census identified a number of single units not located on licensed parks. This factor was highlighted in the Highland area, where a low proportion of the total number of caravans and mobile homes were concentrated on licensed parks compared with the total number of caravans and mobile homes recorded in the Census. Instead, the output areas for the Highlands in the 2001 Census revealed the scattered distribution of many caravans in the authority including many who rent their homes from private landlords.

Glenelg and Arnisdale

2.37 Glenelg is the main settlement in a remote sparsely populated peninsula in South West Ross. The peninsula extends to an area of approximately 90 square miles and has a scattered population of around 280 permanent residents, many of these in the immediate area around Glenelg, but also in the communities of Arnisdale and Corran. During the summer tourist season the population is increased three-fold by visitors staying in the area. The area of Glenelg and Arnisdale has Initiative at the Edge status, which is a partnership programme involving communities in specific areas of Scotland. These community groups work, with the assistance of a designated Local Development Officer, alongside a number of different agencies and local authorities. The operating principle of Initiative at the Edge is that it gives the community groups the power to identify their needs, required actions and develop projects accordingly.

2.38 There were a number of sources of data on households living in mobile homes in this area over the course of about 15 years:

  • A survey of housing needs for the Rural Forum's Rural Housing Service in 1994 in this area identified nine households living in caravans who were in serious housing need (Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, 2005).
  • The 2001 Census identified seven households in mobile homes in the three output areas 1 covering the Glenelg and Arnisdale area.
  • In another housing needs survey, this time conducted in 2005 by the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, five households were identified as living in caravans and in serious housing need (Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, 2005).
  • The valuation list in 2006 identified two residential caravans in this area. Four more caravans were listed in the Business Rates.

2.39 One agency felt that the number of households living in caravans in the Glenelg and Arnisdale area had fluctuated over the years in relation to the availability of lets within affordable housing in the locality. A housing needs survey had revealed nine households living in caravans in this area, prior to the development of accommodation by a local housing association. The agency noted that the availability of this new affordable housing meant that the number of households living in caravans fell away. However, it was felt that the number of people living in caravans had begun to grow in the area again, as the households in the affordable accommodation rented by the housing association tended to be settled and subsequent availability of new lets tended to be very few and far between. There was only one relet in the housing association accommodation between 2002 and 2005 in the Glenelg and Arnisdale area (Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, 2005). In this respect residential occupation of caravans remains indicative of housing stress in many localities. Indeed, McCleery et al (1987) suggested an association between the number of households living in non-permanent accommodation and the dearth of local authority accommodation in certain areas of the Highlands.

Ardnamurchan

2.40 The 2001 Census recorded 7 households living in caravans in this area. The Scottish Assessor's website in 2006 also recorded 7 individual caravans (and also one chalet) on the Council tax list. A further 34 individual caravans were listed on business rates, of which it is possible that some may be being used as winter lets by households, or perhaps as tied accommodation.

Skye

2.41 Previous research has highlighted the presence of a number of individual mobile homes in this area (Alexander, 1992). Information on mobile homes was available from a local authority survey conducted in 1982/83 of the Skye and Lochalsh area which identified 826 caravans and chalets, of which 170 were permanently occupied by 313 persons ( www.bambi.demon.co.uk/skyedata/housing). An interview survey conducted in 1982/83 by the local authority also found that 63 per cent of these households originated from within the District of Skye and Lochalsh and that 42 per cent were living in this form of accommodation because they could not get a permanent dwelling. It was noted that very few of these mobile homes were located on residential caravan sites.

2.42 The 2001 census identified 65 households living in non permanent accommodation on Skye. An analysis of valuation data from the Scottish Assessors Association identified 63 caravans, although this includes 17 at a licensed site at Cuillin View. The valuation data thus identified 46 individual mobile homes on Skye. A further 26 caravans were recorded in the Business Rates.

Argyll and Bute

Tiree

2.43 The 2001 Census recorded seven households living in caravans on Tiree (and two on Coll). In 2006, a desk top study from a respondent using local knowledge identified 9 households on Tiree living in caravans. Another household was recorded as living in a temporary wooden cabin. These ten households included a total of 27 people. This study noted a range of different types of household occupying the caravans (Table 2.19).

Table 2.18 Type of households living in mobile homes on Tiree, 2006

Type of household

Number

Containing children of school age

1

Pensioner

3

Single (not including pensioners)

1

Couple (not including pensioners)

4

Total

9

Notes to table
Source: Desk top study by respondent

2.44 About half these households had moved in to a caravan as a short term move, often whilst they were in the process of building a new home. Six households had been living in their caravan for over five years.

Ross of Mull

2.45 The Ross of Mull, Argyll & Bute was the subject of a study of residential caravans by Alexander (1992). The study by Alexander identified 29 permanently occupied residential caravans in this area in 1992. Argyll and Bute Council (2005) noted that there were still issues regarding significant numbers of caravan dwellers, particularly in the Ross of Mull. This authority also noted that 40% of the Council's waiting list currently rent privately or live in tied accommodation (8% of whom live in caravans).

2.46 Data from Argyll and Bute council showed that there were no licensed sites in the Ross of Mull (which was also the case in 1992). However, analysis of the Valuation Roll via the Scottish Assessors Association website identified ten mobile homes in the Ross of Mull in 2006. A local respondent identified about 20 households living in mobile homes on the Ross of Mull.

Ardfern

2.47 The Argyll and Bute Local Housing Strategy 2004-2009 identified a specific issue with regard to the needs of a significant number of caravan dwellers in the Ardfern peninsula. This area was the subject of a detailed survey as part of the Mid Argyll Housing Market Study to assess the scope of the issue. This study found that 1 in 5 of the permanent residents in the area occupied chalet/bothies or caravans, amounting to 54 households or 89 residents. The Study estimated a need for 6-8 affordable rented properties, mainly family-sized, and 10-12 self-build houses. It also suggested a need for 2 supported units, linked to alarms and with care support (Argyll and Bute Council, 2005).

2.48 A local respondent noted 48 households in this area who lived in mobile homes. A key aspect of the households who lived in mobile homes was felt to be the positive impacts on the wider community in terms of economic and social benefits of having a local supply of accommodation that people could afford. Bevan et al (2001) highlighted the important role that permanent affordable housing could play in rural areas of England in terms of maintaining social networks, which had implications for enabling informal support to be given to vulnerable households. It appeared that a similar role was being played by the existence of residents in mobile homes in the area. The maintenance of social networks facilitated by mobile homes in the area enabled support to be provided to two households with mental health problems to allow them to live independently within that community. A key issue in this area was that a number of people were living in mobile homes without planning permission (but with the agreement of the landowner). One option being reviewed by the local authority was to serve enforcement notices to remove these mobile homes. However, there was strong local feeling that these homes were fulfilling a significant role in meeting local housing needs, with wider implications for the surrounding community in terms of employment and informal care.

Midlothian

2.49 The 2001 Census showed that there was a very different distribution of mobile homes in Midlothian compared with the other two case study areas. Most of the mobile homes identified in the 2001 Census in Midlothian were on licensed parks - there were very few individual units recorded in the Census in this local authority area.

2.50 However, the 2001 Census did show a cluster of 11 individual mobile homes in the Gorebridge area of the district. An analysis of the Valuation Roll in 2006 showed that there were no caravans listed either on the Council tax list or the Business Rates, nor did local respondents identify any individual units in this area. It is possible that between the 2001 Census and 2006 that this group of mobile homes had been removed, or if the group were Gypsy/Travellers, that they may have moved on.

Winter lets

2.51 One feature of housing markets in some areas is that some households may spend part of the year in winter lets, and then move into caravans over the summer. Further, households may also spend some time in holiday caravans out of season, finding alternative accommodation during other parts of the year. This issue was explored in the case study areas.

2.52 A strong feature of the housing market in Skye that was noted by three respondents was the use of winter lets by households, including the use of holiday caravans outside of the peak tourist season. Further, a local respondent on Skye noted that some local residents occupied a caravan or mobile home, and let out their main residence for holiday use during the summer. In other areas such as Tiree, the movement of households between mobile homes and winter lets was felt to be far less marked.

2.53 The 2001 Census also identified non-permanent accommodation that was used as second or holiday homes. Table 2.18 shows that there were a large number of non-permanent dwellings that were second or holiday homes in Argyll and Bute, although that said, the number of non-permanent dwellings used as second and holiday homes in Highland that was recorded by the 2001 Census does seem suspiciously low. Although it is not possible to be precise, a proportion of these properties are likely to be used as winter lets.

Table 2.19 Number of non-permanent household spaces comprising vacant, second and holiday homes by case study area

Occupied

Second/Holiday homes

Vacant

Argyll & Bute

All Households

38969

5158

2447

Caravans/mobile homes

293

1514

35

Highland

All Households

89533

6215

4000

Caravans/mobile homes

501

88

75

Midlothian

All Households

32922

44

548

Caravans/mobile homes

365

3

23

Notes to table
Source: 2001 Census

Case study summaries

2.54 This section provides a summary of the mobile home markets in each of the case study areas.

Argyll and Bute

2.55 The local authority survey identified 144 mobile homes on licensed sites, mainly in the areas of Cowal, Kintyre and Helensburgh/Lomond. Further examination of specific areas within Argyll and Bute noted the presence of individual units, not located on licensed sites. In remote rural areas residential mobile homes were playing an important function in enabling households on lower incomes to live and work in these areas. Nevertheless, the vulnerability of people who occupy mobile homes without planning permission was highlighted in the area of Ardfern, where households were at risk of displacement through the serving of enforcement notices to remove mobile homes by statutory agencies. A high proportion of mobile home residents in Argyll and Bute were renting their homes from private landlords (40 per cent). Argyll and Bute had the largest proportion of residents of the three case study areas that lacked central heating.

The Highlands

2.56 The local authority noted that the Highlands contained 98 pitches on a number of small licensed sites - the largest having 50 residential units - including mixed sites with both holiday and residential use. There has been an issue in the past with some sites that are only licensed for holiday use that have accommodated people on a residential basis, although it is unknown how far this practice has continued.

2.57 The majority of residential mobile homes in the Highlands comprised individual units. Similar to the situation in Argyll and Bute Previous studies in the Highlands noted a link between a lack of affordable housing and the use of residential mobile homes, which was a view by local commentators that persisted in the present study. Nevertheless, there is a diverse range of reasons for the occupation of mobile homes. For example, some mobile homes are occupied on a temporary basis by people who are in the process of building bricks and mortar accommodation.

2.58 A relatively high proportion of residential mobile homes in the Highlands were rented by tenants of private landlords (37 per cent). Mobile homes in the Highlands were catering for younger households (between 16 and 49) than was the case in Midlothian. A high proportion of residents (63 per cent) did not have central heating.

Midlothian

2.59 Midlothian had a very different profile from the other two case studies. In contrast to the Highlands and Argyll and Bute, mobile homes in Midlothian were concentrated on three licensed sites. Two of these sites were relatively large, one site having 116 pitches and the other 205. There were very few individual mobile homes in Midlothian.

2.60 A high proportion of mobile homes were owned by their residents (78 per cent). Mobile home residents tended to be older than their counterparts in the other two case study areas, and a greater proportion also had long term limiting illnesses. However, the majority of residents had central heating.

Conclusions

2.61 A distinctive feature of mobile homes in Scotland was the relatively high proportion of tenants who rented their homes from private landlords compared with the situation in England and Wales. The 2001 Census showed that just over a third of all mobile home residents in Scotland were tenants of private landlords, whilst the respective figure in England and Wales was about one fifth. While recent changes to the legislation covering mobile homes in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 were aimed at people who owned their home and rented the stance from site owners, there were concerns that this legislation fails to address the needs of people who rent their homes and who do not live on licensed sites (Scottish Parliament, 2005).

2.62 The Census showed that caravans, mobile homes and other temporary structures were playing a particular role in the housing system in terms of providing accommodation for older people, and also for people with a long term limiting illness. Thus, mobile homes were a more important form of accommodation for potentially vulnerable households than the general population. One conclusion to draw is that, whilst the sector is numerically small in number, the characteristics of people who live in the mobile home sector means that there is a greater onus on authorities to ensure that the intended outcomes of legislation are both monitored and enforced.

2.63 A diverse range of sources can be used to build up a picture of individual mobile homes. Both the 2001 Census and the Valuation Roll provide data on the incidence of individual units. These sources of data can be supplemented at local level through discussions with local people to derive an estimate of numbers, and also an indication of the type of households who are occupying mobile homes. A possible source of information at local level is the use of housing needs surveys. However, the experience of agencies shows that considerable effort is required to uncover the total number of residents living in mobile homes, who are often hidden away and difficult to identify. The information on individual mobile homes reiterated the conclusions of earlier research that this type of accommodation plays a small, but crucial, role in local housing markets in many remote and rural areas. In this respect, individual mobile homes are a strong characteristic feature of mobile home living in Scotland.