Scotland has a strong economy. But it’s important that all of our communities grow together and that we all share in the prosperity that generates.
That’s why our economic strategy tackles the challenges our rural, remote and island communities face and ensures that they can take advantage of their strengths.
Here’s how, in government, the SNP is supporting a strong rural economy.
We will deliver superfast broadband to all homes and premises by 2021. The first phase will focus on delivering superfast broadband access to Scotland’s rural and island communities.
We are setting up a new South of Scotland enterprise body to support businesses, create jobs and boost skills in the region. An interim body has been established and has already allocated £7.7 million to projects in the region.
We are investing in affordable housing in rural Scotland. A £25 million Rural Housing Fund and the new £5 million Islands Housing Fund have been established.
We are investing in road infrastructure across Scotland. Work is underway to dual the A9 between Perth and Inverness; we’ll dual the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen; we’re taking forward the construction of the Maybole bypass on the A77; making further improvements to the A75; and exploring how to better connect Dumfries and the M74.
We have published proposals to ensure a smooth transition in farming support after Brexit. We will now consult on the proposals, which will aim to provide stability, certainty and simplicity in current funding should we have to leave the EU.
We are maintaining the budget for Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
We are supporting tourism infrastructure. Scottish tourism is booming so we’ve set up a £6 million Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to support our world-class attractions.
We are supporting our regional food and drink brands. Earlier this year we launched a Regional Food Fund and we are developing a Food Tourism Plan.
We are working to keep ferry fares down. We have protected the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) on Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services routes and reduced passenger and car fares on ferry services to Orkney and Shetland.
Kick-started a civic conversation on how to support the rural economy in the future. We have set up a National Council of Rural Advisors, which is engaging with rural communities on their needs and challenges. And the next Rural Parliament meets in Stranraer in November – with a particular focus on hearing the voices of young people.