National Islands Plan through a COVID Lens: survey results

Summary of key findings after the six main local authorities with islands were invited to consider the impact of the (COVID-19) pandemic on the delivery of National Island Plan commitments and how these should be prioritised going forward.

Recommendations for Special Consideration

Further to the main objectives and strategy of Scottish Ministers, in relation to improving outcomes for island communities that result from, or are contributed to by the carrying out of functions of a public nature, as set out in the National Islands Plan, in response to question three, Local Authorities provided recommendations for additional recovery response requirements that are deserving of special consideration.

Given that responses were not aligned to NIP Strategic Objectives or Commitments, LA recommendations covered a broad number of priority areas. A small number of areas were mentioned by two or more LAs, which are listed in order of frequency of references:

1.Local Authority Funding and Empowerment (4 mentions)
2. = Sustainable Local Food Supply and Production (3 mentions)
2. = Population Decline Resulting from Unemployment (3 mentions)
2. = Local Retailers and Local Supply Chains (3 mentions)

Primarily, LAs communicated their desire to see increased funding at a local/regional level to support increased local empowerment. The pandemic has also emphasised the reliance on centralised food production and processing, which has contributed to uncertainty and difficulties getting sufficient supplies and services to the islands quickly and efficiently. The price of food on islands is also a concern. In terms of population, concerns exist regarding the longer term impact of unemployment, which could lead to young people leaving the islands to seek work. This in turn may impact negatively on both population levels and demographic balance. Conversely, potential was recognised for islands to be identified as a more attractive post-COVID re-location option for those currently residing on the mainland. Local supply chains have in some cases been shortened, which has helped to keep added value within island areas. There exists a desire to retain more localised food and retail sector business models where this has worked well and to build increased resilience and growth into local production, localised supply chains and local retail. Local retailers provided support for island towns and communities during the pandemic and are also seen as crucial to delivering a green local economy.

In addition to the four areas identified above, the remaining recommendations for special consideration in direct response to COVID-19 were all listed by one LA and are noted as below. Additional information is available in Annex A (Question 3):

  • Aviation
  • Key Workers
  • Brexit
  • Legacy of Business Failures
  • Community Anchor Organisations
  • Local Health Services
  • Community Wealth
  • Mental Health
  • Debt Counselling
  • Private Sector Economy
  • Energy Security
  • Procurement
  • External Contractors
  • Remote Working
  • Furlough Scheme
  • Social Enterprises/Third Sector



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