Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has again raised in the Scottish Parliament the opportunities for home-working to bring more public-sector jobs to rural and island areas.

During a portfolio question time session in the Scottish Parliament on Thursdday [September 17], the islands MSP highlighted the potential benefits this would bring, and asked what more the Scottish Government can do to ensure more posts in the public sector are open to home-working or hot-desking in rural offices.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “The rapid shift to home-working brought about by the pandemic has the potential to be beneficial for the islands if we can encourage employers and public sector organisations to make sure that more and more of their jobs can be done by home-working or hot-desking.

“We know that a key reason for people moving away is that they can only pursue their chosen career path on the mainland, and so if we can enable people to do that while remaining in the islands it would help to tackle depopulation.

“I was pleased to see the Scottish Government acknowledge the need for them to show leadership in this area and commit to further discussions with representatives of the rural economy.”

Meanhwile Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant has said both the Scottish and U.K. Governments must now “sit up and pay attention” to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the region and has called for an economic “shot in the arm” to support local jobs and businesses following the publication of a report from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The report “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Highlands and Islands” warns that the economy of the Highlands and Islands could decrease by as much as £2.6bn this year due to the impact of Covid-19 on businesses and jobs.

And the figures presented in the document also suggest that unemployment increased faster in the region than the rest of Scotland.

Rhoda Grant said: “This report makes grim reading and should make both the Scottish and U.K. Government’s sit up and pay attention to the serious impact that Covid-19 has and is having on the Highlands and Islands, one of the worst hit areas in the country economically. 

“The Scottish and U.K. Governments must work together to invest in the Highlands and Islands to protect jobs , livelihoods and businesses and the future economic prosperity of the region.

"If we want to see the region survive and thrive after Covid-19, we need to ensure the right support is in place to allow us to build back better and support an economy that works for everyone."