National Islands Plan Survey: final report

This report presents the findings from the National Islands Plan Survey. The research explores perceptions of island life in relation to the strategic objectives set out in the National Islands Plan.


What is the report about?

The Scottish Government developed Scotland's National Islands Plan (2019) following the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018. This plan aims to improve people's lives in Scotland's islands. The National Islands Plan Survey gathered data with a view to collecting information about people's lives against which we'll measure the effectiveness of the Plan.

What did we do?

In October 2020, 20,000 surveys were posted to adult residents of 76 permanently inhabited islands, with options to complete it on paper, online or by phone, and in English or Gaelic. A total of 4,347 people responded to the survey from 59 islands, giving a response rate of 22%.

What did we learn?

Survey findings highlight that experiences of island life vary considerably by island group and by age groups.

Respondents feel there is a lack of support for young people to remain, move or return to the islands. The data reveals that respondents feel there are a lack of employment, training and higher education opportunities and a lack of childcare options to fit with residents' working patterns. Respondents also feel there is a poor variety of housing types, sizes and tenures to meet people's needs and a lack of affordable housing. Respondents also have mixed experiences of accessing healthcare services and of speed and reliability of internet connections. Some feel there is inadequate infrastructure for the number of tourists their islands attract.

The National Islands Plan Survey has significantly improved the availability of data held about Scotland's islands. It has provided baseline data against which to measure the effectiveness of the Plan.

An interactive data explorer can be found.This allows you to explore the data by island region, age group, gender, household income, long term health condition/disability, and household type.

What needs to change in the future?

Changes need to be made about assumptions that are sometimes made about Scotland's island residents. Just one in five island respondents works in more than one paid job or business; Scottish Gaelic and Orkney and Shetland dialects are spoken more widely among young respondents than older respondents; and the majority of respondents plan to stay on their island for at least the next five years.

What do we recommend?

Any recommendations or polices should recognise that life is considerably different in each island group and that different age groups, too, have distinct experiences of island life. Therefore tailoring to each island group and different age groups seems appropriate.



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