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SIC needs to save £33million

Shetland Islands Council’s target of annual savings has just grown to £33.1 million, according to a report for this week’s budget setting council meeting.

Last week, the SIC took out an expensive three page advert in the Shetland Times to explain how savings of £26 million per annum could be achieved from a budget of £127 million.

However, on Thursday, councillors will learn that the savings target has increased by £7.1 million due to the reduction in the Scottish government grant, additional cost pressure and the transfer of projects from the capital fund to revenue.

Meanwhile, the impact of council spending cuts of £26 million are expected not to have too severe an impact on the local economy, according to council’s’ head of development services.

Neil Grant said that already implemented cuts of £7 million “appear to have been absorbed by growth in the private sector,” and further cuts in council spending could be compensated for by the buoyant oil/gas and seafood sectors.

“Whilst the reduction in council expenditure on its own, if all other economic activity were stagnant, could reduce FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs in the islands by 597 and create a contraction of 4.5 per cent in Shetland’s total output, this could be balanced by a 9 per cent growth in the oil and gas sector or 4.7 per cent growth in the seafood sector.

“Shetland has also been ranked 30th out of 32 Scottish Local Authority areas in terms of resilience to public sector cuts, reflecting the strength of the Shetland economy,” Mr Grant said in the 29 page report before councillors on Thursday.