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Monday, July 15, 2024

Addressing Depopulation Action Plan Launched

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The Scottish Government published their Addressing Depopulation Action Plan (ADAP) last week to identify a pathway to implement measures and actions to reduce population decline through collaborating with local and regional partners.

The Outer Hebrides, along with Inverclyde, are the only Scottish Local Authorities forecasted to have the more people leave the regions by the end of 2028 than move there.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, recognise that work needs to be done both nationally and locally to reverse this trend, and whilst they acknowledge that the ADAP is a good national starting point, they are already working with local partners and the community to deliver measures to tackle the crisis. 

However, more devolved resources would assist in implementing actions to meet community’s needs.

Cllr Donald Crichton, Chair of the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee said:

“I welcome the publication of the ADAP and many of the initiatives outlined in the plan.

“I recognise, however, that publication of ADAP is only a first step and that much work is required to impact on the challenges of depopulation.

“To ensure its effectiveness it is essential that there is a proactive and well-resourced approach to delivering the actions. 

“I note that the Plan states that “…stakeholders have been unequivocal that the delivery and availability of affordable housing is absolutely essential to addressing our population challenges”.

It also states that:

“Supporting affordable housing priorities in different areas requires flexibility”.

“I wholeheartedly agree and would urge the Government to review and update their approach to affordable housing.

“I would call on the Government to follow through on the ambition of the ADAP and what it says about Local Authorities being an essential partner and the need to deliver flexibility around affordable housing, by devolving affordable housing monies directly to the Comhairle and for these monies to be used in a progressive flexible manner that seeks to underpin population in our most peripheral communities.

“The Outer Hebrides is one of the areas that faces the greatest population decline and I believe the ADAP should place its initial focus on the areas facing the greatest challenge.

“I welcome the establishment of an Addressing Depopulation Delivery Group to monitor and report on the delivery of actions.

“It is essential that areas such as the Outer Hebrides are represented, and I would urge Comhairle representation on the Delivery Group.

“Local Authorities are an essential partner in addressing depopulation and to agreeing priorities for development in their locality.”

Through the Uist Repopulation Working Group, the Comhairle, along with its delivery partners, are piloting the delivery of various collaborative actions to reduce depopulation in Uist, and these can then be applied in other communities throughout the islands.

This includes – but not limited to – tackling issues including housing, infrastructure and connectivity, childcare, employment, and skills shortages.

A Community Settlement Officer, part-funded by the Comhairle and the Scottish Government, supports the delivery of these whilst also advising those wishing to move to the islands.

The Addressing Depopulation Action Plan can be viewed at – https://www.gov.scot/news/tackling-scotlands-population-challenges-1/

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