The Comhairle is to hold a seminar on the decrease in population and the demographic imbalance in the Western Isles.
The current population estimate for the Outer Hebrides is 27,070 as at 30 June 2015; this represents a decrease in the overall population of 180 persons (-0.7%) from mid-2014 to mid-2015. The decrease in the population is due mainly to the highest levels of negative natural change over the last decade.
Attracting people to our islands is something we have worked on for many years and positive net migration is an essential part of counteracting the negative natural change that the Outer Hebrides continues to experience. The Comhairle agreed at last week’s Policy and Resources Committee to host a Population and Migration Seminar in Autumn 2016 in order to develop a comprehensive policy framework to tackle population decline and migration issues. These islands offer a good quality of life but we also need to provide the infrastructure for people to fulfil their aspirations and for that we need good and affordable housing, good services and most importantly; a multi-agency approach. Our new Islands Minister, Humza Yousaf, and our community planning partners have been invited to the seminar in the Autumn and we look forward to working collaboratively with them to reverse to our population decrease in the Western Isles.
“Creating Communities of the Future” is the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership’s (OHCPP) Economic Strategy for the period up to 2020. The ambition is to work with the private and community sectors to create a confident Outer Hebrides that has at its heart a stable economy that offers new growth opportunities; that has strong communications links both within and without the Hebrides and that values its Gaelic, cultural and natural heritage; that is a place where young people are highly valued and where the population is stable and moving towards growth.