London - Set in a beautiful blue ocean a world away from the UK, it might seem like the perfect escape.
And officials launched a glossy advertising campaign to lure new residents with the slogan: ‘Live the dream, make the change, move to Pitcairn Island.’
But despite the campaign there were only three applications to move there – and none of these people actually bothered to do so.
Following the failure of the website campaign, the South Pacific island – famed for the Mutiny on the Bounty – is being handed another £6.5million in British aid cash. The bailout is being provided over two years to cover costs including running a school, health centre and ferry service for the 41 inhabitants of Pitcairn.
It had been hoped that increasing the number of working people would help to bring the island closer to self-sufficiency.
Newly published figures show Britain spent £3.5million of aid cash on Pitcairn in 2016/17, with £3million more earmarked for the current financial year. A further £11.6million was given in the previous four years.
In official documents, the Department for International Development said the money is needed because the ‘able bodied population has declined to a critical level’. Of the resident population, 26 are in paid employment with only eight of these aged under 50.
Dfid said: ‘The island is belatedly promoting immigration and investing in tourism promotion in an effort to reverse population decline. In reality, the likelihood of a significant increase in population is low and the prognosis is very pessimistic. Dependency on HM Government will undoubtedly increase if there is not a positive change in population numbers and a reduction in dependency ratio.’
Since 2015, the Governor’s Office has approved three immigration applications, but none of the applicants actually moved to Pitcairn, which is halfway between New Zealand and Peru.
Residents of the island all receive either a government wage or pensions paid for by the UK, as well as child benefit. They pay no tax.
Pitcairn was colonised in 1790 by nine mutinous sailors from the crew of the Bounty led by Fletcher Christian. They arrived from Tahiti along with 18 Polynesians.
The overseas territory had supported itself through the sale of stamps and coins, but the UK stepped in when interest in collecting declined.
Aid is used to provide a doctor, nurse, policeman and teacher. A social worker has been paid for since a scandal in 2004 when six men, including the former mayor, faced charges including the rape of children as young as seven.
Britain’s annual aid budget is £13billion. The UK is one of only seven countries in the world to meet the target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on aid.
Dfid said the Government had legal obligations to support British citizens on Pitcairn and was ‘helping ensure that their government can provide the essential public services needed to sustain their communities’.