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Young people and families wanting to move to, or stay on, Arran could receive up to £50,000 in a bid to curb depopulation if a Scottish Government proposal known as the Islands Bond gets the go ahead.
While still in the very early consultation stage, the Government is seeking to formulate the policy which will align with its commitment to offer 100 bonds of up to £50,000 to young people and families wishing to stay in or to move to islands currently threatened by depopulation.
The Islands Bond is expected to deliver incentives and objectives detailed in the Scotland’s National Islands Plan which lists depopulation as a top priority issue for island communities.
In the documentation providing background details on the Islands Bond – which can be found at www.gov.scot/publications/islands-bond-consultation/ – the proposed aims are described as,
‘The Islands Bond will aim to address the issue of depopulation through delivering a direct intervention responding to some of the key financial barriers to remaining in, or moving to, the islands.
‘This intervention will involve providing up to £50,000 for up to 100 households across the lifetime of the parliament. The bond will be an agreement to provide financial assistance based on set criteria to support island residents to remain in their community, or to encourage households outwith the islands to move there.
‘Recognising the potential tensions arising from those outwith the islands moving into island communities, we will also look to develop, in parallel to the bond mechanism, options for a relocation support or advisory service. This could help to provide a ‘soft landing’ for those looking to move to island communities.
‘Providing support in the form of capital funding through an Islands Bond will stimulate local island economies and address financial barriers to accessing land, housing and/or business space that will facilitate both population retention and growth in island communities.
‘In particular, the bond could be expected to create sustainable and inclusive growth in the island communities recipients of the bond move to or remain in, and, through careful development of its criteria, would also reduce inequalities and give equal importance to economic, environmental and social progress.’
Members of the public are invited to have their say and can respond to the consultation by October 25, 2021. All responses will then be analysed and considered as part of the decision making process when shaping the Islands Bond policy.