Summary of Findings
There were 171 responses to the consultation. By far the largest number of responses (159) came from self-identified individuals, almost all of which were residents of mobile home sites. There were 12 respondents that self-identified as organisations. Of these, four responses were from residents’ associations or organisations representing the interests of residents’ associations, six responses were from mobile home site operators or organisations representing their interests, and two from local authorities or organisations representing the interests of local authorities.
Findings from the consultation responses:
- The majority of respondents (92%) agreed with the proposal that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the most appropriate inflationary index for pitch fee uprating for Scottish contracts under the Mobile Homes Act 1983. The majority of respondents who identified as residents or residents’ associations agreed with the proposal, as did respondents from local authorities. Site operators were more divided with some agreeing with the proposal and some disagreeing. The reasons respondents gave for agreeing with the proposal were that they believe the CPI is a more accurate statistical measure, that it is used for uprating pensions and benefits so that increases would be aligned, that it will make increases more affordable, and that it would provide consistency with the rest of the UK. A few respondents disagreed with the proposal because of a preference for another measure or no measure. There was no consensus on an alternative measure with suggestions including the RPI, the Consumer Price Index including owner occupiers’ housing (CPIH), alignment with Council Tax increases or a bespoke system.
- The majority of respondents (96%) thought that the proposed change in uprating from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the CPI should take effect for both existing and future contracts. The majority of respondents who identified as residents or residents’ associations, as well as those representing local authorities, agreed that changes should take effect for existing contracts. Some of the small number of respondents who identified as site operators agreed and some disagreed. The main reasons given for agreeing were to promote fairness and reduce potential for confusion that might arise if two different measures were in use. A few respondents who identified as site operators disagreed with the proposal because of the potential impact on site income, in particular in light of increases in operational costs.
- The majority of respondents (86%) thought that a further change should be made to the Mobile Homes Act 1983 so that the statistical basis for uprating pitch fees can be amended by secondary legislation in the future, to keep pace with developments in statistics. The majority of respondents who identified as residents and residents’ associations agreed, as did representatives of local authorities. Those respondents who identified as site operators were split in their views on whether secondary legislation should be used in the future, with some agreeing and some disagreeing. Many gave the reason that secondary legislation is a quicker, simpler and more flexible approach to legislation. The reasons given for disagreeing were that there should be no further change to the index in future, concerns expressed about complexity and that secondary legislation would result in a reduced level of scrutiny on a future change.
- No additional considerations were identified by respondents for Gypsy/Traveller sites in relation to the Mobile Homes Act. One organisation representing local authorities highlighted the importance of rents being set by the Council based on the need to balance income with expenditure.
- Of those respondents who identified as residents or residents’ associations, a minority said that they thought that the changes proposed in the consultation would result in little or no impact on mobile home parks. This was for a number of reasons, for example the relatively small difference between the RPI and the CPI, potential alternative income sources for site operators or a view that expenditure on maintenance is limited so a reduction in income would not impact on it. Some respondents who identified as residents and some site operators said that they thought the change would result in a loss of income for site operators and therefore reduce future maintenance, or create a threat to site viability.
- The most common impact on individuals mentioned in responses was reduced cost for residents and therefore a potential financial benefit. Particular groups identified as benefiting were older people and people with health conditions or disabilities, who are more likely to have a fixed income linked to pension or benefits. Some responses highlighted the concentration of these groups on licenced sites.
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