People offered £50,000 to move to Scottish islands under new scheme

Special bonds worth up to £50,000 could be made available to help tackle the “population challenges” facing some of Scotland’s islands.

The Isle of Rum, Scotland.

Government ministers have launched a consultation on plans to introduce a £5 million Island Bonds scheme.

Under the proposals, the bonds could be given to young people and families to help them to either move to or stay in islands that are currently seeing their populations dwindle.

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The Scottish Government said the bonds could allow people to buy, build or renovate homes, as well as start a business, in a bid to help them live a sustainable life on the islands.

Speaking at the start of the 12-week consultation, Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “The Islands Bond will help us to deliver on some of the commitments from the National Islands Plan. It’s a way for us to address some of the key financial barriers for people who want to live on our islands.”

She added: “Each of our islands are unique and this consultation will help us understand some of the population challenges across our islands and make sure that we can properly address them.

“It will also provide information to enable us to set up a relocation support or advisory service and make the move for people as smooth as possible.

“I’d encourage people across Scotland, especially those on our islands, to provide a response to this consultation and make sure their voices are heard to help shape the Bond.

“As well as delivering this consultation, we’ll continue to engage with local authorities, island communities and other relevant stakeholders as we develop the bond.”

According to an Office of National Statistics (ONS) study last year, rural and island communities were worst affected by depopulation in Scotland.

Parts of the west of Scotland suffered significant depopulation with Inverclyde seeing the biggest decrease in a decade.

In places such as Argyll and Bute, North Lanarkshire and Angus, more areas were decreasing in population than increasing.

The median age of people – the age at which half the people are older and half younger – in rural and island communities was also increasing at a faster rate than in cities.

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allansaid previously: “We already knew they were vulnerable to the negative impacts of Brexit, but the Covid-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus some of the very real challenges those communities face,” he said.

“Anything we can do to reverse the depopulation trend in Scotland and encourage more people to live and work in island communities should be encouraged, especially in the face of a damaging Tory Brexit.”

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