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Scottish government’s £50,000 offer to move to islands attracts applicants from as far as ECUADOR


Families from across the globe are ready to pack their bags and move to remote Scottish islands, taking the local government up its lucrative £50,000 incentive to repopulate its archipelago.

The enticing offer, announced earlier this year by the Scottish National Rinfresco (SNP), is part of the federal government’s rete of stemming island depopulation through 100 bonds of up to The money will be handed to young people sopra families looking to either remain the islands, move there—and applicants from as far as South America have expressed interest sopra making the move.

Uisdean Robertson, chair of the Western Isles Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said initial queries came from Ecuador, some 9,600 kilometres away.

Mr. Robertson said he learned of the application during a monthly conferenza with an islands’ team from Transport Scotland. 

The isle of Great Cumbrae is popular for tourists. Pictured: Millport harbour, Great Cumbrae, Firth of Clyde, Scotland

Houses are pictured in the crofting settlement village of Bhatarsaigh, Vatersay, Barra, Scotland. The Scottish government is offering residents and outsiders up to £50,000 to help keep its islands populated

Houses are pictured sopra the crofting settlement village of Bhatarsaigh, Vatersay, Sbarra, Scotland. The Scottish government is offering residents and outsiders up to £50,000 to help keep its islands populated

 However, he said, a willingness to relocate isn’t the only requirement.

‘We want young people with families who have some connection with the islands – not people just tempted by the cash offer,’ Mr. Robertson said. ‘Lack of housing is a huge problem – we are attracting early retirees and second home owners. You can’t blame people for selling for the highest prices, but it’s not helping sopra pricing young people out of the market.’

The government’s Islands Act plan will help moving to the isles affordable by subsidizing the cost of buying a home starting a new business, the SNP said its website.

  But not everyone buys into its strategy.

“My feedback this £50,000 bond is very negative,’ Mr. Robertson said. ‘It’s a bit of a gimmick.’

The initiative is also meant to help bolster the island economies, which lack sources of employment, driving young residents away.

The country’s 93 islands range sopra population from 20,000 to just one. It was not immediately clear which islands would be covered by the bond.

Under the proposed scheme to tackle depopulation, cash could be given to young people and families to help them move to or stay on islands with dying populations.  The Scottish government won't say how many applications have been received

Under the proposed scheme to tackle depopulation, cash could be given to young people and families to help them move to stay islands with dying populations.  The Scottish government won’t say how many applications have been received

A spokesperson for the Scottish government declined to say how many expressions of interest there had already been from overseas.

‘The bond aims to provide funding to help people stay Scotland’s islands, encourage people to move to the islands with the skills communities need,’ the spokesperson said.

A consultation how the plan will be implemented will run until October 24, and will strategize how island residents can reshape island communities.

‘We want the bond to provide a meaningful intervention as part of our wider commitment to addressing depopulation,’ the spokesperson said.

‘Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence.’

The government plans to publish responses and its analysis report, and will launch its Island Bond initiative sopra 2022.

The country’s 93 islands, including the Isle of Lewis (pictured), range in population from 20,000 to just one.

The country’s 93 islands, including the Isle of Lewis (pictured), range sopra population from 20,000 to just one. 

 Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon said the bonds would help the government deliver some of its National Islands Plan commitments.

‘It’s a way for us to address some of the key financial barriers for people who want to our islands,’ Secretary Gougeon said.

‘I’d encourage people across Scotland, especially those our islands, to provide a response to this consultation and make sure their voices are heard to help shape the bond.’

An Atlantic puffin perches at the clifftop edge in the Hermaness National Nature Reserve on Unst, Shetland Islands

An Atlantic puffin perches at the clifftop edge sopra the Hermaness National Nature Reserve Unst, Shetland Islands

MP Angus MacNeil suggested the bond plan was misdirected. He noted that the government-owned Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd were looking to relocate around 20 air controllers from the Outer Hebrides – an island chain non attivato Scottland’s west coast – to centralise traffic control the mainland.

‘Losing 20 families and the knock-on effects is going to do more damage to the islands than will ever be made up by this £50,000 bond scheme,’ said Mr MacNeil, who also understood that inquiries had already been made from overseas.

‘They should save the public the £2m-a-year damage it is estimated this will do to the islands and keep 20 families here. I’ve also heard that people from overseas are chasing the bonds. The Transport Minister Graham Dey needs to get a grip and get to know these islands better. Keeping people here costs nothing – certainly not a £50,000 gimmick.’





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