Grant reductions to be discussed in private by SIC development committee

A squeeze will be put on council grants for key industry sectors such as agriculture and tourism during the next financial year.

Severe cuts on grants, loans and investments will be discussed by the development committee during a private meeting at the Town Hall on Tuesday – although increases will be available for marketing and events such as the Tall Ships Race.

The move is being made following a reduction in the economic development budget for 2010/11 of 24.6 per cent, from almost £9,900,000 in 2009/10 to £7,442,657 – although that excludes a £1m carry-forward following an underspend of commitments from the current financial year.

Fisheries and aquaculture will see a significant 16 per cent reduction, from £4,303, 850 to £3,626,350 as part of the move.

The bulk of the money goes towards the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway, as well as Shetland Seafood Quality Control (SSQC) and Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO).

Tourism and heritage faces an even bigger reduction, at 59 per cent, taking the 2009/10 budget of £1,411,000 down to below £600,000 for the new financial year.

Meanwhile, grant funding for general industry will be cut by a quarter from just over £1m at the moment to £797,000.

There is also a 44 per cent reduction in agriculture, from £866,000 to £485,000 to reflect a “significant” underspend during the current financial year.

Telecommunication and creative industries are also facing cutbacks in grants and loans – last year’s budget stood at £732,000, but a 40 per cent cut will see that reduced to £442,498.

Less severely affected is the energy sector, which is busy with new renewable energy projects and is associated with the oil and gas sector as well as decommissioning. Its grant funding goes from £480,000 to £345,000 – a cut of 28 per cent.

Funding for community enterprise schemes designed to help people and communities face a 12 per cent reduction – from £260,000 to £230,000 – while business guidance and engagement will be cut by 67 per cent from £150,000 to £50,000.

A 16 per cent increase has been put aside for events like the 2011 Tall Ships Race and this year’s Hamefarin, which includes the Flavour of Shetland festival.

The 2009/10 events budget goes up from £242,810 to £280,970 and there is also a 31 per cent increase for marketing and promotion, which covers the new tourism organisation Promote Shetland.


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