28th September 2016
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Holyrood-driven cut is the ‘last straw’ (John Tulloch)

Shetland Islands council’s annual funding from the SNP Scottish government has been cut by five per cent (to £82 million), a larger cut than suffered by any other council.

That this cut has been imposed despite an increase in Holyrood’s own funding means it cannot be blamed on Westminster but solely on SNP finance minister John Swinney’s decision to divert the funds elsewhere.

Government underfunding must be made up from other cuts and/or the SIC’s shrinking reserves (£19 million needed for 2016/17), which means those hard-won oil funds are, in effect, being siphoned to the central belt.

Since the 1980s, over £100 billion in oil revenue have accrued to the UK Treasury from what, with independence, would be Shetland waters.

It’s true, of course, the Scottish government has no control over that money and Westminster-driven austerity is partly the cause of previous cuts.

Alas, Holyrood sharing the blame with Westminster brings little comfort to Shetlanders faced with closing schools, ungritted roads and expensive ferry transport.

This latest Holyrood-driven cut is the “last straw” and will bring grimaces to the faces of local SNP politicians, MSP candidate Danus Skene and councillor Michael Stout for it may be interpreted, in election year, as the SNP having abandoned all hope of winning here and simply, sucking Shetland dry while they have the power.

We need control of our own finances and with each passing day the need for Wir Shetland to exist becomes more starkly defined.

John Tulloch
Chairman,
Wir Shetland
Lyndon,
Arrochar.

39 comments

  1. Brian Smith

    Last Friday I attended a meeting where I heard reports from UNISON members in 21 of the 32 local authorities in Scotland. Anyone who imagines that Councils in the ‘central belt’ are not facing enormous cuts is living in a dream world.

    Reply
  2. Derick Tulloch

    Mr Tulloch’s statement that the reduction in the SIC’s funding settlement “has been imposed despite an increase in Holyrood’s own funding” is not correct.

    Holyrood’s Departmental Expenditure limits have been cut by -9.6% since 2010/11.

    To explain: the total Scottish Government Budget – is in two parts:

    1 Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL)
    and
    2 Annually Managed Expenditure (AME)

    DEL funds local government, the NHS, ferries etc. and is the budget strand that funds the SIC.

    AME funds things that are under the control of the UK Government mostly – e.g. Housing Benefit. It is nominally allocated to Holyrood, but Holyrood has no control over it.

    Only DEL is under the control of the Scottish Goverment. Via the Barnett formula DEL is the means whereby we get a <100% proportion of tax revenue hoovered up by Westminster returned via the Block Grant to Scotland

    This is a little out of date but explains the difference between the two. http://www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/919/0119252.pdf

    So has the Holyrood's budget been "increased" as John claims? Nope. It has not.

    DEL , has been reduced by -1.0% in real terms between 2015/16 and 2016/17 and by a cumulative -9.6% between 2010/11 and 2016/17. See table 1.01 in the draft budget http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00491140.pdf

    The 15% or so of the Scottish Government's budget that falls into AME HAS increased, but that is purely because the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) is now administering the pensions of police and firefighters, in addition to its previous responsibilities for teachers and NHS Scotland staff.

    For anyone that doesn't know how the system works, or is attempting to spin politically, the increase in AME because of the pension changes makes the overall budget look as though it has increased, but that obscured the fact that part that is under the direct control of the Scottish Government and which funds local government, has been cut.

    Read the links. Make up your own mind.

    Reply
  3. John Tulloch

    I really must respond to this, Derick Tulloch is deliberately misrepresenting the contents of my letter.

    I clearly acknowledged the role of past Westminster cuts and it is disingenuous to link this year’s 5.1 percent SIC funding cut to that when Holyrood have enjoyed increased funding from Westminster.

    “I am hugely disappointed that a cash increase from Westminster has translated into a £350m cut [across all local authorities] from the Scottish government.” GARY ROBINSON”
    http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2016/02/10/councillors-condemn-worst-settlement-as-budget-agreed

    Sorry, Derick, there’s nowhere to hide, your gobbledygook is irrelevant – and transparent!

    Reply
    • Derick Tulloch

      John

      Direct quote from youre letter “despite an increase in Holyrood’s own funding”

      I have shown that there has been no increase in that part of Holyrood’s funding that is under the control of the Scottish Government.

      DEL has been reduced by 9.6% since 2010/11. That is a fact. A fairly relevant fact I would say.

      You have a right to your own opinion. You do not have a right to your own facts

      Here’s my opinion. Those who voted No in September 2014 voted to have Scotland’s budget determined by a political party – the Tories – who have not won an election in Scotland for sixty one years. And therefore voted in the referendum for the inevitable ‘austerity’ that is the result of being governed by said Tories

      People who voted No voted for the drain on Scotland’s income of billions of pounds each year, which is the direct consequence of the Union, and which has persisted in every year we have figures for since 1900 (and probably before that).

      Don’t get to complain now about the effects of that vote.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        Derick,

        Please don’t be dishonest. I’m talking about this year, not last year or any other year of the SNP reign at Holyrood because that is what the SIC were talking about – they got the worst deal of any Scottish council.

        I’ve quoted my source, are you saying that SIC political leader Robinson has made a false statement to the Shetland Times and Shetland News?

      • Brian Smith

        Anyone who imagines that Councils in the ‘central belt’ are not facing enormous cuts is living in a dream world.

      • Robert Sim

        Don’t you get it, Derick? Facts are soundbites in the Shetland Times – it’s much more comforting that way. You are just causing trouble with your numbers and logical arguments.

      • Gordon Harmer

        ‘I want the Scottish National Party, here and in Holyrood, to have to start making decisions,” cried David Cameron. “Which taxes you are going to raise, what you are going to do with benefits. I want to get rid, frankly, of this grievance agenda and then we can see what you are made of!”.
        Chance would be a fine thing, came the unspoken reply. You may take our land and our freedom. But so long as 100 of us remain alive, you will never deprive us of our grievance agenda. It would be like taking salt from our porridge.

      • Gordon Harmer

        Despite lies spread on some social media pages over the past few years saying Scotland pays more in tax than it gets back in public spending, the truth is Scotland spent £7.8 billion more, last financial year, than it recouped through taxation. This surplus was paid for by tax payers from the rest of the UK. This fact is proven in the Scottish executive’s own “Government Expenditure and Revenues Scotland” figures. this gap is only going to increase during the current financial year due to the much lower tax intake from north sea oil. Some people believe lies spread through social media by those determined to mislead us into supporting a breakup of the UK by promoting grievances that don’t actually exist. We should always check the facts rather than have our opinions based on lies that others want us to believe in order to promote their own agenda.

      • ian tinkler

        The great sage speaks, Robert Sim, for a literary Guru, please explain to us lesser mortal, how can the written word be a soundbite? lol.

    • John Tulloch

      I apologise to readers for commenting repeatedly on my own letter however the facts are being twisted in order to convey the impression that I am somehow misrepresenting the situation with the SIC budget cuts.

      Derick Tulloch disputes Gary Robinson’s statement that the Scottish Government (SG) received an increase in funding and supplies an SG table purporting to support his argument, stating the SG received a cut of “1 percent in real terms.”

      Let’s be clear, I don’t dispute that and I doubt whether Mr Robinson would, either.

      The problem is, Derick knows fine well he is not comparing “apples with apples”.

      The SIC’s funding has been cut by 5 percent in actual cash (“absolute”) terms from £87m to £82m, so we can forget about “real terms” and look at the flat monetary value of SG funding from Westminster. From Derick’s Table 1.01:

      2015/16 = £30,141 million.
      2016/17 = £30,286 million.

      It is seen that Councillor Robinson’s statement is correct.

      If Derick wishes to discuss real terms figures we would need to consider the effect of SIC cost inflation which increases their real terms funding cut to over 10 percent.

      Is that nor so, Messrs Tulloch and Sim?

      Reply
      • Robert SIm

        John, I think you may have misunderstood or missed Derick’s main point. He can speak for himnself but note where he says that “…there has been no increase in that part of Holyrood’s funding that is under the control of the Scottish Government.” The last seven words are crucial.

  4. Ivan Coghill

    Wir Shetland, Wir Oota Europe, Wir Unionists

    Reply
    • Duncan Simpson

      Valuable contribution as usual Ivan. Just because Wir Shetland doesn’t tie in with what you want for Scotland does not automatically make us a unionist group which I am sure you are aware we are not. Hoping for a reaction no doubt.

      At least some of your SNP allies try to come up with valid points of debate. You would do well to do the same if you want anyone to listen to you.

      Reply
  5. John Tulloch

    Really, Brian? This, from uswitch:

    “Affordable living costs? High salaries and fast broadband? It’s not impossible; it’s Edinburgh”

    “That’s right — the Scottish capital came out on top in uSwitch’s Best Places to Live in The UK Quality of Life Index, which assessed more than 130 UK cities for 26 different lifestyle factors including working hours, life expectancy, hours of sunshine, food and energy bills, disposable income and more.”

    Shetland came out 112th of 138! “Scotland is the star performer”

    http://www.uswitch.com/media-centre/2015/10/edinburgh-best-place-to-live-in-uk-according-to-quality-of-life-index/

    Difficult to square that with your notion of impoverished central belt councils?

    Reply
    • Brian Smith

      You are living in fantasy land, John. Edinburgh is preparing to axe 2000 Council jobs. Do you not read the news?

      Reply
      • iantinkler

        Brian Smith, “Edinburgh is preparing to axe 2000 Council jobs” The SNP are really hurting every council, Just Shetland more than most. Strange is it not, the Nats have wanted more fiscal (tax raising) power, now they have it they are frightened to use it. Shows their divisive ranting against Westminster austerity for just what it is. We now have Nicolas own special brand of austerity. Targeted on Shetland for daring to defy the Nats, “days of reckoning just starting?”. How nice.

    • Robert Sim

      John, back in the real world, Stirling Council is expected to get rid of around 350 jobs as a result of the financial settlement. North Ayrshire will pass its budget next week with the impact including school cleaners having their working week cut to four days, primary school kitchens being shut and street cleaning reduced. Around 200 job losses had been proposed but it is hoped the final figure will be fewer.

      In Aberdeenshire, the budget includes a £3.2million cut to education and an estimated saving of £1.2m to early learning and childcare staffing. From memory, your own authority, Argyll and Bute, is getting rid of all school librarians.

      Every single council in Scotland is affected. And, to my untutored eye, the others are having to deal with problems just as significant as Shetland’s but with much smaller reserves. Derick’s analysis is correct and he has identified the root cause of the problem.

      Reply
      • ian tinkler

        Just a few good points Robert Sim. The SNP have done an awful stitch up job on other councils besides Shetland. I can not understand why you take such pleasure showing how the SNP have created so much hardship, for once I applaud your honesty.

      • John Tulloch

        Brian and Robert Sim,

        You needna come greetin ta me aboot central belt cooncils, dir (nearly) aa better aff as baith Shetland an Argyll an Bute.

        The central belt has obviously prospered under the SNP and the Highlands and Islands are suffering.

        You should address your sense of injustice regarding central belt councils to the Scottish government who are cutting councils’ money (while getting more themselves) and not permitting them to raise the council tax paid by their relatively prosperous constituents.

      • John Tulloch

        Robert Sim,

        You write: “Derick’s analysis is correct and he has identified the root cause of the problem.”

        Derick’s analysis of the problem he set for himself is, indeed, correct however it is a different problem from that which we are discussing. I apologise for the necessary block capitals which follow.

        WE ARE DISCUSSING THIS YEAR’s FUNDING CUT TO SIC WHICH EXCEEDED ALL OTHER COUNCILS’ CUTS.

        I’m surprised to see such a normally sanctimonious debater as yourself picking up cudgels on behalf of such a deliberately – obdurately so – disingenuous argument.

        You know in your heart the SNP has abandoned all hope of winning here and is sucking Shetland dry while they still have the chance – it hurts, doesn’t it?

      • Brian Smith

        Sorry, John, you don’t know what you are talking about. I recommend a few weeks with newspapers, and you will discover what is happening in local authorities everywhere in Scotland – and particularly in the ‘central belt’..

  6. Derick Tulloch

    Percentage of children living in poverty – Child Poverty Action Group

    Highest in Scotland – Glasgow 33%
    Lowest in Scotland – Shetland 10%
    Edinburgh – 21%

    Shetland is joost pure oppressed!

    http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/percentage-children-living-poverty-scotland

    Reply
    • ian tinkler

      What a lousy record. Hard to understand your point Derick Tullock, Sturgeons very on SG|SNP seems to have made a pretty awful job of things. After all this time Child poverty, fuel poverty is rampant in Scotland! As with Robert Sim I applaud your honesty for highlighting how lousy 8 years of SNP leadership has been for Scotland. Well done. Now lets get Shetland away from these SNP clowns, their record is far worse than anything from Westminster. Stange how Robert S and Derick T praise the SNP so, the record of poor achievement is hardly something to be proud of. I suppose blind faith is the reason, very blind by the looks of things.

      Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      The difference is all those other areas mentioned by Robert and Derick are not producing a surplus but Shetland is. Yet we are expected to make cuts to support them, I doubt very much if they would countenance cuts in their services to subsidise wis. It makes no odds whether it is lame duck politicians in holyrood or westminster, we wid be better aff clear a da lot a dem

      Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Sorry, Derick,

      Edinburgh is the wealthiest place and Glasgow is 61 places above Shetland in the uswitch survey I posted above.

      So it appears Shetland has a much fairer distribution of wealth than more prosperous central belt cities – yet the SNP won’t use their tax-raising powers or permit councils to raise council tax.

      I’m properly wearying of ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ and I really have better things to do so I won’t respond again unless you come up with something sensible.

      Reply
      • Robin Stevenson

        Another ridiculous skewed outlook from you there John? But I do take your point about ‘shooting fish in a barrel’, I’m not really surprised you don’t choose to answer any further questions? Make a silly statement then run like hell.

        There are parts of Edinburgh that ARE wealthy and there are parts of Glasgow, Shetland and everywhere else that have ‘wealthy parts’, Glasgow STILL has the poorest most deprived areas in Scotland, but there are some parts that are rather well off, it’s a bit like saying the biggest, best and wealthiest household in Shetland gives a fair picture of everyone’s living standards throughout these islands, in other words a ‘skewed logic’.

        from your link:

        : 16 out of the 20 biggest falling regions are in England
        : Nottingham pays the most in council tax yet has the second lowest disposable income in the UK – while energy bills are highest in Northern Ireland and lowest in Scotland
        : Orkney is the 19th best place to live in the UK +86 places

        http://www.uswitch.com/place-to-live/orkney-islands/

  7. Johan Adamson

    I can understand all the comments above for and against Wir Shetland/ SNP but leaving all this aside, shouldnt we discuss what we do now? If the SIC makes more cuts it is going to mean job losses on top of the job losses already in construction and oil and gas. It means people moving away for work, which is bad news for us all. We are already disadvantaged by high fuel costs and high transport costs, none of which seems to have gone down despite the oil price. If Aberdeen has been promised extra help because of the downturn in oil and gas, should we not be due some of this too?

    Reply
    • Duncan Simpson

      Good point Johan. This would be up to our elected representatives to lobby at Hollyrood/Westminster but I wouldn’t hold my breath. With Edinburgh cutting SIC funding and Westminster cutting our emergency tug cover I get the impression neither will be in a rush to assist “affluent Shetland” when there aren’t substantial votes to be won.

      Reply
      • Robert Sim

        Your elected representatives have indeed been lobbying, Duncan, in the form of COSLA, the councils’ umbrella organisation. If you google COSLA and click on News you’ll see what I mean. There was talk by at least one council of mounting a legal challenge to the Scottish Government’s budget.

        The simplistic stereotype of the rest of Scotland sitting on the sidelines complacently rubbing their hands and laughing at Shetland is so far from the truth as to be laughable. As Brian has been saying, it’s all in the media – the national media, that is, with no offence to the excellent Shetland media. As regards assisting, the Scottish Government can’t and the UK Government won’t, because it suits the latter to have the SNP put in as embarrassing a position as possible.

      • John Tulloch

        Really, Robert,

        You say COSLA are in dispute with the SG? Basically, the same argument that Councillor Robinson is making, presumably? Namely:

        “I am hugely disappointed that a cash increase from Westminster has translated into a £350m cut [across all local authorities] from the Scottish government.” GARY ROBINSON”

        I just hope they don’t bump into that ‘devastating’ argument from Derick Tulloch’s party bosses:

        Robert, you wrote: “Derick’s analysis is correct and he has identified the root cause of the problem.”

        If your opinion on that is valid then they haven’t much chance. have they? 🙂

      • Johan Adamson

        And they do seem to be going to help even more affluent Aberdeen. We are part of the downturn in oil and gas so need more help, not less.

      • Robert SIm

        John – for the second time: “John, I think you may have misunderstood or missed Derick’s main point. He can speak for himself but note where he says that “…there has been no increase in that part of Holyrood’s funding that is under the control of the Scottish Government.” The last seven words are crucial.” I have said my piece here so will bow out.

      • John Tulloch

        I agree, Robert Sim, you should “bow out,” you’re only making a fool of yourself now.

        I suggest, in the spare time you have awarded yourself by “bowing out”, that YOU re-read MY comments as you “have clearly misunderstood or missed MY point.”

        You have to compare ‘like with like’ – ‘flat cash’ figures with ‘flat cash’ figures and ‘real terms’ figures with ‘real terms’ figures or you fail to get a true picture.

        Gary Robinson and I referred to ‘flat cash’ figures and Derick tried to introduce ‘real terms’ into the middle of it.

        If you and he wish to insist on ‘real terms’ figures, fine – but we’d then have to talk about the SIC’s ‘inflation-adjusted’ costs which would imply a ‘real terms’ budget cut of more like 10 percent – an even worse position for the SNP to plead mitigation from.

        Does the SNP think we’re all fools? Remember, a lot of us went to school before they started messing with Shetland’s education.

      • Robert SIm

        Ok, John, I will come back from retirement to try again, quoting Derick:

        “…the total Scottish Government Budget is in two parts:

        1 Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL)
        and
        2 Annually Managed Expenditure (AME)

        DEL…is the budget strand that funds the SIC.

        AME funds things that are under the control of the UK Government mostly – e.g. Housing Benefit. It is nominally allocated to Holyrood, but Holyrood has no control over it.

        Only DEL is under the control of the Scottish Goverment… [it] has been reduced by -1.0% in real terms between 2015/16 and 2016/17…The 15% or so of the Scottish Government’s budget that falls into AME HAS increased, but that is purely because the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) is now administering the pensions of police and firefighters…”

        So the Scottish Governmnt has less money to fund councils. Reductions have to be made. I am not saying that I like that any more than anyone else or that there isn’t a debate to be had around SG policy on spending in general. But it it is not true to claim, as you are, that the Goverment has received more funding which it is withholding from councils.

      • Ali Inkster

        What was it that was written on your report cards Robert? Must try harder, Robert fails to grasp even basic arithmetic.
        Scoti government DEL in 2015/16 was £30,141,000 and in 2016/17 it is £30,286,000 this is an increase in actual funding while the money passed down to us (the crumbs fae wir ain table) has been reduced, and by a lot more than mainland councils.
        Better aff cler a da lot a dem.

  8. John Tulloch

    Robie, Robert and Brian,

    I am arguing for Shetland which has suffered the biggest cut of any Scottish council, all of whom have suffered cuts while, as I have demonstrated above using Derick’s own figures, the SG’s Total DEL has increased.

    If you wish to argue on behalf of the central belt councils you should address your complaints to the Scottish government who have been in power for nine years and gave central belt-dominated COSLA the power to allocate and distribute councils’ funding pro rata, as opposed to according to actual needs and Shetland, along with other remote places has suffered grievously.

    The survey I posted from consumer group uswitch highlights central belt areas as better to live in than the H&I, citing prosperity and facilities so if parts of those cities are poverty-stricken there must be a less fair distribution of wealth there than in Shetland.

    Given that the ‘Tartan Tories’ SG will not use its tax-raising powers and will not permit councils to raise the council tax paid by their wealthy constituents to help the poor, it is they to whom you should be addressing your hand-wringing pleas.

    Perhaps, Danus and SNP Shetland may help to direct your approach to the appropriate quarter?

    Reply
  9. John Tulloch

    Readers may wish to consider this:

    To avoid cuts in day-to-day services in 2016-17, the SIC will be forced to spend £19 million from its reserves.

    There are 10,000 (-odd) Shetland homes so this equates to £1,900 per home – for one year!

    Equivalent to your council tax being increased by £1,900 per home from about £850pa to £2750 pa!

    That is what would be required to maintain SIC services, even at their present reduced level, if the SIC had no reserves which, at this rate of attrition, will occur within 20 years.

    Yet Shetland is more than paying its way, even without considering the £100+ billion which have accrued to the UK Treasury since the 1970s.

    Reply
  10. Henry condy

    john , just a thought, you say , and I agree with you , you are fighting for Shetland, but my view and I am not looking for Utopia , , but only for honesty , is one straw namely Wir Shetland can be broken and destroyed by higher powers , but all Scottish Councils united are stronger against Government, let’s not forget to quote an American saying ” These people were elected by the people for the people ” They are answerable to us and for to long have ridden roughshod over the electorate , with their popular phrase ” We are in it together “

    Reply

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