Council faces biggest cuts in country, says MSP
Bigger cuts will have to be made in Shetland next year than in any other council in Scotland, an MSP claims.
Highlands and Islands member Jamie Halcro Johnston said analysis of the proposed local government financial settlement by the Scottish Parliament’s independent information centre (Spice) showed the SIC will have to contend with an almost four per cent reduction in its real terms revenue grant.
The Conservative MSP said the revenue grant will be cut by 2.2 per cent but Spice figures show the core budget will be slashed by 3.9 per cent when ring-fenced grants are left out. Mr Halcro Johnston said he fears it will pile on the pressure at a time when the council is already facing tough spending decisions.
He said: “These plans unveiled by SNP finance secretary Derek Mackay will put even further pressure on council services at a time when the Scottish government’s budget has risen.
“The SNP are simply passing on cuts to councils while getting more to spend on their own projects, with almost a billion pounds of new money coming from the UK government through the Barnett formula.
“While island communities have relatively high levels of public spending, this is essential to maintain a reasonable level of services that are accessible to all. It should not be seen by a government in Edinburgh as a cash cow.”
The draft budget had already faced criticism from the town hall after Mr Mackay announced Orkney and Shetland would get a share of £10.5 million to fund inter-island ferries. Councillors insisted they would continue to demand the £7.9 million they say is needed to fund the service.
The council’s transport committee chairman Ryan Thomson last week said: “Our position has not changed in terms of our fair funding ask for internal ferries is £7.9 million. That remains the position that the SIC has included in our budget so that remains the figure we expect to see, which would fully fund our revenue cost for out internal ferry services next year.”
In the last budget, Shetland received £5 million.