Population decline in Argyll and Bute is expected to accelerate in the next 25 years, according to new government figures.
A report prepared for a key council committee this week reveals that according to projections by the National Register of Scotland (NRS), Argyll and Bute’s population could fall by 13.5 per cent between 2012 and 2037.
The report, for the authority’s performance review and scrutiny committee, explains that if the NRS projections prove accurate, only Inverclyde will experience a steeper population decline over the 25-year period.
The NRS projections, based on information available in 2012, predict a decrease of 18 per cent in the number of 0-15 year-olds, a decrease of 22 per cent in the number of working-age people, an increase of eight per cent in the number of people of pensionable age, and an increase of 73 per cent in the number of over-75s.
The latest set of biennial projections from the NRS paint a worse picture for Argyll and Bute than those based on information available in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
The latest projections have also been affected by the publication last summer of the 2011 census figures, which reported a decline of 3.4 per cent in the area’s population in the ten years from 2001.
On Bute the decline was even more pronounced: the census reported a decline of ten per cent in the island’s population in the same ten-year period.
This week’s council report states: “Projections make no allowance for the impact of policies or any exceptional socio-economic changes that might affect future populations.
“Indeed, any policies that are developed in response to issues raised by projections may, if successful, change patterns of population growth away from those projected.
“Population projections should, therefore, be seen as indicators of change rather than as definitive predictions.”
The NRS projections indicate that the population of Scotland as a whole is projected to increase by nine per cent between 2012 and 2037.
The NRS figures for Argyll and Bute will be considered by the council’s performance review and scrutiny committee at a meeting in Lochgilphead on Thursday, August 28.