National islands plan: annual report - 2020

The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 requires that a report is presented to Parliament each year setting out the progress made towards delivery of the National Islands Plan. The National Islands Plan annual report 2020 is the first of these reports.

Empowered Island Communities and Strong Local Partnerships

Strategic Objective 10 - To empower diverse communities and different places

We committed to take forward the Local Governance Review with COSLA in order to create a system of local democracy that will be inclusive and improve people's lives.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

The second phase of the Local Governance Review was delayed due to COVID-19. As a result, further Democracy Matters engagement to explore in detail potential new arrangements for community level decision-making was also postponed. The findings from the first phase of the review, alongside recommendations from the Social Renewal Advisory Board and Citizens' Assembly of Scotland suggest that democracy in Scotland continues to be an important debate.

We committed to support participatory processes aimed at providing island communities with a strong voice in the implementation of the Plan.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

We have continued to regularly engage with island communities to inform the implementation of the National Islands Plan. This includes increased, targeted engagement at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow for real time information to be relayed from island communities to the appropriate policy department within Scottish Government. We have also continued to support the Islands Strategic Group to allow us to work closely with our local authority partners on delivery, and have recently undertaken island stakeholder workshops to inform the development of the Implementation Route Map for the strategic objectvies of the National Islands Plan.

Additionally, the Young Islanders Network Pilot project was launched 16 January 2021. The Project will provide the opportunity for island residents aged 5-25 to highlight the issues facing them, and develop a network that will help to address these. This, combined with the formation of the National Islands Plan Delivery Group and continued engagement with island communities, will ensure that we secure broader engagement in the actions we need to take against each Strategic Objective.

Scottish Government has committed significant investment in participatory budgeting (PB) over the last 5 years, with around £7 million provided from the Community Choices Fund. That has enabled 122,000 people to vote on the dispersal of more than £6.6 million, with around 47,000 people attending events across the country, including island communities.

The Scottish Government and COSLA continue to work in partnership to help local authorities reach the target of having at least 1% of their budget subject to participatory budgeting, giving local people a direct say in how almost £100 million will be spent.

The newly established national PB Strategic Group will help inform the role PB has in the Covid-19 recovery phase and how it fits within broader reform of community empowerment.

We committed to explore ways to strengthen the voice of island communities whilst capturing the differences between islands in local and national decision-making.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

As mentioned above, we have continued to regularly engage with island communities to inform the implementation of the National Islands Plan, including the recently held Implementation Route Map workshops and ongoing formation of the National Islands Plan Delivery Group.

Since asset transfer legislation came into force on 23 January 2017, 249 asset transfer applications have been made including from island communities. We have established a National Asset Transfer Action Group to look at the asset transfer three year evaluation report and recommendations published in July 2020.

Since participation requests came into force on 1 April 2017, 63 participation requests have been made. The majority of those were submitted by community councils and received by local authorities. The three year evaluation report published in April 2020 indicates that the legislation is working as intended but we take on board their recommendations on monitoring, raising awareness and supporting marginalised groups.

We fully committed to working with island communities and local authority partners in the development and introduction of a Transient Visitor Levy Bill.

Work has yet to be progressed in relation to this commitment.

Plans for the implementation of a Transient Visitor Levy were put on hold as part of the Scottish Government response to the COVID-19 crisis and in recognition of the severe economic impact COVID-19 has had on the sector.

We committed to explore ways in which to empower and support island communities to enhance their resilience by developing local initiatives and plans in partnership with Scotland's Emergency Responder organisations.

Work has yet to be progressed in relation to this commitment.

Due to the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, specific actions relating to the resilience of island communities have yet to be delivered. However, at national level, the development and dissemination of guidance and tools for communities on Ready Scotland Advice for emergencies in Scotland ( have been put in place to support all of our communities so that they can safely help each other during the Covid response.

The Scottish Government's Islands Team will work across policy to ensure that progress is made towards this commitment in 2021.

We committed to introduce regulations which enable island local authorities, in consultation with their communities, to request that Scottish Ministers promote legislation devolving a function to them, or that the Scottish Ministers transfer an additional function, duty or responsibility to them. These regulations acknowledge the uniqueness of each of our island communities and that one size does not always fit all.

This commitment has been fulfilled.

The Additional Powers Request (Scotland) Regulations 2019 were laid on 5 July 2019 and subsequently approved by Parliament on 25 September. The Regulations were signed on 17 October and are therefore now in force. No additional powers requests have been submitted thus far but the Regulations are recognised as an exciting provision which acknowledge the uniqueness of our island communities.

We committed to ensure that policies and plans relating to the Scottish Crown Estate are appropriately island proofed and that any manager of a Scottish Crown Estate asset supports implementation of the National Islands Plan as appropriate.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Scottish Ministers' vision for the Scottish Crown Estate is that it is:

managed sustainably, responsibly and fairly, and in a transparent and inclusive manner, delivering financial benefits and wider and long-term social, economic and environment benefits for Scotland and its communities.

The Crown Estate Scotland asset management pilots scheme launched in 2018 and is designed to encourage local authorities, development trusts and other eligible bodies to manage Scottish Crown Estate land and property rights in their local area. The Local Pilots Management Scheme will continue to assist with testing and putting in place the practical arrangements for enhanced local management of Scottish Crown Estate assets through the powers in the Scottish Crown Estate Act 2019.

We committed to ensure that Gaelic speakers in island communities are encouraged and supported to represent themselves through the medium of Gaelic.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

We continue to encourage bodies and authorities to increase Gaelic use with mechanisms such as Bòrd na Gàidhlig's Guidance on Gaelic plans and ensure that Island Communties Impact Assessments are undertaken for appropriate policy and legislation.



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