Can the Islands Bond help stimulate populations and economy of island communities?
As part of the Scottish Government’s National Islands Plan, a plan prepared in by Scottish Ministers in light of the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 with a commitment to addressing population decline among Scottish island communities, the Islands Bond has been proposed as a means of encouraging more young people and families to stay on, or move to, the islands.
At an overall cost of £5m, the Islands Bond will aim to encourage both growth in island communities, and population retention, in turn stimulating and driving local economies. The Scottish Government intend to launch the Islands Bond next year, with capital funding in the form of 100 bonds of £50,000 being offered to young people and families who either chose to stay on islands, or opt to move to those islands currently threatened by depopulation.
Ahead of the proposed launch next year, a consultation on how the plan will be implemented will run from 2 August 2021 until 25 October 2021. With around roughly 790 islands, the consultation will likely present an opportunity for the Islands Bond to determine appropriate eligibility criteria of applicants, and also identify the locations open to the bond.
At this early stage, it is suggested that those islands that have suffered historical declines in population, or those that are anticipated to suffer such declines, will be prioritised. It is also thought that the bond will primarily focus on matters such as supporting people in buying homes and starting businesses. In addition, and alongside the Islands Bond, it is thought that a “relocation service” will be implemented to assist those who chose to relocate, providing a “soft landing” in adapting to island life.
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