Tackling Scotland’s population challenges

Steps to address depopulation and help future-proof communities.

A wide-ranging plan to strengthen communities facing population decline, including funding for local-led research, initiatives, and community support has been published.

Projections show that Scotland’s population is set to fall from 2033, with fourteen local authority areas projected to experience population decline over the next decade. The Addressing Depopulation Action Plan will set out the Scottish Government’s strategy to support people to live, work and raise families in the places affected – many of which are rural and island areas.

A £180,000 Addressing Depopulation Fund will initially help three acutely affected local authorities trial ways of retaining and attracting people to their communities. The projects to receive funds will be announced later this year.

Part-funding has been provided this financial year by the Scottish Government for Community Settlement Officers in Argyll & Bute, Highland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, enabling them to continue supporting people living in or moving to those areas. Part-funding for these roles has also been put forward for the next financial year, as well as support for a Community Settlement Officer to be established in Inverclyde. 

Dumfries and Galloway Council will receive £30,000 to research the causes of local population decline, to inform the development of future policy interventions.

Launching the plan at the Nevis Centre in Fort William, Migration Minister Emma Roddick said:

“The factors that lead to depopulation are complex and interdependent, and every place is affected differently. This plan cuts right across government – in policy areas including housing, healthcare, transport and education – to help deliver solutions that address the needs of individual areas.

“Local leaders, councils and organisations are the people who know their communities best – that’s why this plan commits to channelling community expertise and backing a range of local-led initiatives. This will not only benefit the places leading these projects, but could also generate learnings that can be applied elsewhere.

“Bringing together new actions with a programme of ongoing government work, these steps will underpin our work to ensure every place in Scotland is equipped with the population it needs to thrive into the future.”


Addressing Depopulation Action Plan

The Ministerial Population Taskforce has overseen the development of the Addressing Depopulation Action Plan and will oversee its implementation.

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


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