A rural local authority on Scotland’s west coast is to offer a cash incentive to would-be new residents in the hope of convincing them to relocate.
The initiative by Argyll & Bute Council will see £500,000 set aside to entice young people and families to the area in an attempt to bolster the local economy and boost the population.
In return for giving up the bright lights of city life, they will be offered lump sums to help cover their accommodation costs and council tax bills.
Although it is the second largest local authority in Scotland in terms of landmass, the rural region has the third sparsest population of the country’s 32 council areas.
The scheme is based on a fund set up in the Republic of Ireland which, since its inception more than two decades ago, has helped over 700 families relocate from cities to the country’s west coast. Officials in Argyll & Bute believe a similar model can help to attract new residents as well as new businesses, helping to buck the decline in population.
Under the Rural Resettlement Fund (RRF), economically active young people aged 18 and over will be able to apply to a rent subsidy of up to £5,000. Young people already living in the area will also be able to apply.
Families making the switch will also be in line for a £5,000 windfall to cover their removal and set-up costs.
In order to make sure any residents commit to their new life, the council will retain a quarter of any grants until the applicants have been living and working in the area for a year.
The fund, which will operate on a first come, first served basis, is also designed to lure companies to the region, with micro and SME businesses in line for £10,000 payments, made up of capital expenditure grants and relocation packages.
Aileen Morton, the local authority’s policy lead for sustainable economic growth, said: “Argyll and Bute is recognised as being one of the most promising areas in Scotland. We want people to come here and by promoting the fund we are letting everyone know there is help available to take up career opportunities or build a successful business here.
Argyll & Bute is one of four regions in Scotland to record a falling population. According to the 2001 census, it was home to 91,306 people, but the figure had dropped to 89,590 by 2011, according to mid-year estimates by the General Register Office for Scotland. The RRF schemewas approved by the local authority’s policy and resources committee.