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News / More belt tightening for SIC as austerity bites

Lerwick Town Hall.

SHETLAND Islands Council is facing a cut of nearly £4.5 million to its budget after the Scottish Government confirmed its spending plans for the next year.

The local authority will receive £78.14 million as its next revenue grant from the government for 2017/18 – a cut equating to 5.4 per cent.

The council will have to draw millions from its own reserves to balance its books. Following the end of the council tax freeze, the SIC has also the option of increasing the local levy by up to three per cent.

The SIC will also receive £6.94 million in capital grant money from the Scottish Government.

Finance secretary Derek Mackay delivered his first budget on Thursday as the Scottish Government used its new tax powers devolved from Westminster.

Speaking from London while attending meetings with stock market fund managers, SIC leader Gary Robinson said the settlement was disappointing but not unexpected.

“In setting our own budget this year the council has committed more than £19 million of its own funds to support the delivery of services,” he said.

“We expect to continue to supplement the government’s annual funding for the benefit of the people of Shetland. Once the checking process is concluded, the council will consider the 2017/18 budget in February 2017.”

The council’s budget blow may be mitigated somewhat by the Scottish Government’s decision to provide greater funding for inter-island ferries, with an announcement expected soon.

The SIC has been pushing the government in recent months for the isles to have parity with the west coast of Scotland, where the cost of ferry services is funded directly by Transport Scotland.

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