£50k 'golden hello' Islands Bond scheme scrapped
Plans to give people up to £50,000 to move to or stay in Scottish islands have been scrapped by the Scottish Government.
Rural affairs and islands secretary Mairi Gougeon said the SNP-Green administration is "changing our approach" after feedback from islanders.
The Islands Bond would have given up to 100 households up to £50,000 each to those seeking to live on Scottish islands as part of efforts to tackle depopulation.
The money would have been given out by 2026. But while the 1,600 responses to a public consultation were evenly split on whether the scheme was a good idea, most of those in favour were non-islanders.
Mainland residents called the initiative a "great opportunity", a "fantastic idea" and "amazing". However, island residents questioned the approach, fearing it would be a "short-term fix", that the level of investment was too low and that it would be a "waste of taxpayers money", according to analysis of the responses by the Scottish Government.
Gougeon said: "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."
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur welcomed the dropping of the "gimmick", saying: "Rather than tackling the root causes of depopulation, it risked opening up divisions within our island communities."