Response to the public consultation published.
The proposed Islands Bond will not go ahead following responses to a consultation.
The key findings from the analysis of the Scottish Government Islands Bond consultation suggests that island communities do not support the proposed Bond - one of the initiatives announced last year to address the issue of depopulation.
Consultation respondents were fairly evenly split between those in favour and those opposed to the Bond, however those in favour of it were largely non-islanders.
Island respondents raised concerns about the proposed approach and whether it would achieve the objective of reversing population decline.
The greater focus on the importance of addressing population decline was welcomed by the islanders, as well as the commitment to work with communities to develop local solutions.
Welcoming the feedback from islanders, the Scottish Government is continuing to further develop other means to tackle depopulation including undertaking Practical Policy Tests, influenced by its engagement with island communities, that will inform the wider Addressing Depopulation Action Plan'.
Rural Affairs and Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:
I would like to thank everyone who responded as part of the consultation process, and especially our island communities for their constructive feedback and suggestions. It is directly because of the feedback from islanders that we are changing our approach.
The Islands Bond was never intended to be a silver bullet to address our island population challenges. Rather, it was just one element of our wider work, across all Scottish Government, to support our island communities.
We will continue to address the issue of depopulation on our islands with our National Islands Plan commitment to develop an Action Plan to address this issue, with a draft publication in 2023.
The learnings and suggestions gathered through the Islands Bond consultation will be used to shape a range of Practical Policy Tests to inform this Action Plan.
Additionally, we are investing 8.3 million this year to deliver the National Islands Plan and critical infrastructure projects based on local priorities.
Consultation with communities who are directly impacted by the introduction of new policies or strategies is a crucial part of policy development. Taking the decision demonstrates our continued commitment to listen to island communities and ensure policy is delivered in collaboration with them, rather than to them.
In our A Fairer, Greener Scotland Programme for Government 2021/22, we announced a commitment to develop an Islands Bond fund, providing up to 50,000 each for up to 100 households by 2026, by providing financial support for island residents to remain in their community, or to encourage people to move there.
Islands bond: consultation 19 stakeholder engagement sessions and 12 on-island in-person events took place last year.
The work around the Practical Policy Tests to inform the Addressing Depopulation Action Plan' will be driven forward over the next 12 months, in close collaboration with island communities, by delivering interventions that respond to unique island needs.
Scottish Government support for islands, and progress made towards delivery of the National Islands Plan, is recorded in our annual report, presented to parliament each year. The first of these was the National Islands Plan: annual report 2020, published 23 March 2021. The most recent report was the National Islands Plan: annual report 2021, published 23 March 2022.