Plans to address depopulation in rural and island communities

Plans will include targeted funding to support places where populations are set to decrease.

The Scottish Government has launched a new action plan to address rural and island depopulation.

Ministers say they are setting out steps to “strengthen communities and empower local leaders” as part of a new scheme to help retain and attract people to depopulating areas.

The Addressing Depopulation Action Plan will outline the next steps in the Scottish Government’s work to support people to stay, live and work in places where populations are set to decrease – many of them rural and island areas.

The plan will include targeted funding to support places that are particularly impacted by the effects of depopulation. It will also consolidate work that is already ongoing in areas including housing, transport and education.

Migration minister Emma Roddick said: “People are Scotland’s greatest asset. However, a falling birth rate, ageing population, and lower inward migration after Brexit mean that some places need support to secure the populations required to help their local communities and economies thrive.

“Addressing depopulation is a priority for this government. While there is no quick fix to the challenges that lead to population decline, this plan will set out the next steps in our work to help communities up and down the country grasp opportunities and unleash their potential.

“Understanding that depopulation affects different places in different ways is at the heart of this strategy.

“Local leaders and organisations know their communities best, and we will set out concrete steps to empower them and channel their expertise.”

The migration minister will launch the Addressing Depopulation Action Plan on a visit to the Nevis Centre, Fort William on Friday, February 16.

The plan builds on the More Balanced Population pillar of the Scottish Government’s Population Strategy, launched in 2021, and will set out the first phase of work within the Population Programme.

It also delivers on one of the key commitments made in the National Islands Plan published in 2019.

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