Scottish election 2021: Residents offered £50,000 to stay in or move to island communities under SNP proposals

Funding of up to £50,000 will be offered to families and young people to say in or move to island communities under a new SNP initiative to prevent further rural population decline.

The financial support – known as Island Bonds – is part of Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP manifesto which launched on Thursday.

The sum of money will be provided to help people buy homes for the long-term and set up businesses on islands where depopulation is a risk, the Press and Journal revealed.

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Details of how the funding will work in practice have not been confirmed.

The Isle of Rum, Scotland.
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Western Isles candidate Alasdair Allan told the Press and Journal: “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.

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“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.”

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

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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.

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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.

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