Scotland’s intention to protect the unique way of life of its 900+ tiny island communities is making fast progress towards their Islands Bill. Minister Humza Ustaf said ‘Our islands make a significant contribution to Scottish life from both a cultural and economic perspective. We have placed the aspirations and needs of our island communities at the centre of our empowerment agenda. The Bill will provide lasting benefits for all our island communities for generations to come’. This approach is an exciting recognition of those ancient communities that live in isolation and small numbers and after consultation with all residents their manifesto includes –
- Giving Island communities a stronger voice with a new Islands Bill, and continue the Islands Working Group.
- Develop a National Islands Plan to ensure our islands fulfill their economic potential.
- Maintain the Air Discount Scheme at 50 per cent; invest in quality ferry services; keep ferry fares as low as possible, and provide concessionary travel for our older people.
- Superfast broadband will be extended to all premises by 2021, and island businesses will benefit from the Small Business Bonus too.
- Record investment in our NHS, supporting health care across our islands with more health care in the community.
- Free childcare doubled and action to improve attainment in our schools.
- Ensure Winter Fuel Payments, which are being devolved to Holyrood, will be paid early to people who are “off-grid” – making a huge difference to older people in remote areas.
- £5 million investment to support island and Rural produce.
- Support the energy industry on the islands and push the UK Government to deliver the connections that are needed.
- Ensure island communities receive the full revenues from Crown Estate assets around their shores and have a greater say in how the assets of the Crown Estate are managed.