SNP Manifesto 2021: What we’re doing for rural communities

Not all communities are the same. What works in urban Scotland may not be fit for our rural or island communities, and vice versa.

As Scotland’s truly national party, rural communities are at the heart of our plans to protect and support the NHS, create jobs and opportunities for our young people, and to rebuild a stronger economy as we transition to net zero.

Make it Both Votes SNP to:

Invest in our NHS

The SNP will increase frontline NHS spending by at least 20% over the next parliament, as we implement our NHS recovery plan.

We’ll create a new centre of excellence to provide the expertise and advice to deliver better care in different rural, island, and remote settings in Scotland.

We’ll invest in our rural general hospitals, and roll out more mobile health services, particularly in rural areas. This will include additional screening services, stroke units and mental health services.

And we will invest half of all NHS frontline spending into GP and community services to increase access to diagnosis and treatment in the community, and reduce the need to travel to hospital.

Empower our rural communities

We will support Community Wealth Building, where public services are required to spend in their local communities through increased local procurement, greater use of small businesses and reinvesting taxpayers’ money into local communities.

And we’ll empower our rural communities with the new Community Empowerment Act, as well as new Land Reform Legislation to promote community buy-outs.

Establish a new National Care Service

We will set up a new National Care Service to oversee the delivery of care, improve standards, and provide better support for unpaid carers.

It will ensure enhanced pay and conditions for workers, including a new National Wage for carers.

Strengthen our rural economy

To breathe new life into the economies of rural Scotland we will create a new, £20 million Rural Entrepreneur Fund – providing grants of up to £10,000 to support the creation of 2,000 new businesses.

We will maintain investment of £6.2 million per year in the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, and invest a further £1 million in a Seasonal Ranger scheme to help support responsible tourism in our rural and remote areas.

And by establishing the new Scottish Food Agency, we will support the growth of our food and drink sector, boost its international profile and enhance exports.

Support our fishing communities

Our fishing and seafood sectors are currently suffering the very real price of Brexit.

As a priority, these sectors need access to the EU single market – and an SNP government will do all we can to regain markets and opportunities for our fish and seafood sector.

We will continue to support our fishing industry to recover from the Tories’ Brexit betrayal and press for the £62 million of marine funding Scotland is entitled to, to be fully allocated to Scotland.

And we’ll create an explicit economic link between catching and landing, incentivising the landing of more fish in Scotland creating more jobs and business opportunities onshore, especially in processing.

Support farming, make food production more sustainable

We will transform support for farming and food production to be more sustainable.

By 2025, half of all funding for farmers and crofters will be tied to efficiency, productivity, biodiversity and sustainability.

We will develop a single marketing brand for all Scottish produce – Sustainably Scottish – available to all Scottish-based producers, manufacturers and suppliers, and create a new £15 million fund to support transition to low or zero carbon operations.

Revitalise our high streets

The SNP will build on the recent Scotland Loves Local campaign which encouraged people to think local first by piloting local loyalty schemes alongside a national Scotland Loves Local loyalty scheme.

We will introduce a new £10 million Scotland Loves Local fund will help revitalise high streets hit by the pandemic.

Tackle depopulation, support our communities

To stop depopulation and support our communities, we will give local authorities the powers to manage the numbers of second homes in their area – and work with Community Land Scotland, so we can find the right land to deliver more housing in our rural areas.

We will also work with local authorities to develop a Rural Visa Pilot as a rural and remote migration initiative.

Supercharge digital connectivity

Recognising how reliant the economy in rural areas is on having good connectivity, we will expand superfast broadband with £579 million investment – giving every home and business in South and Central Scotland access by 2023, with work in the North of Scotland completed by 2026.

Through the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme, we will provide funding of up to £5,000 to help homes and businesses obtain superfast broadband in areas where providers may not ordinarily go.

And over this parliament, we will invest £25 million to improve mobile coverage in remote rural and island communities.

Improve transport infrastructure

We will work with regional transport partnerships to reinstate or develop new railway branch lines across rural Scotland – delivering enormous benefits to communities and the regional economy in terms of sustainable tourism and meeting our green travel objective.

We will ensure that our road network in all parts of Scotland supports electric vehicles and invest £500 million in bus infrastructure.