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Council / SIC to ask for extra funding from government to cover ‘significant’ cost of coronavirus response

Shetland Islands Council leader Steven Coutts. Photo: Shetland News

THE LEADER of Shetland Islands Council (SIC) says the local authority will be seeking extra funding from the Scottish Government to cover the additional costs incurred during its response to coronavirus.

Councillor Steven Coutts said there is “no question” that there has been “significant” extra cost to the council.

Services across the council have been affected, with extra pressure also placed on staff.

Coutts said the SIC will be asking for extra funding via local government body COSLA.

“Our immediate priority was to support the NHS, flatten the curve on demand for health service and ultimately save lives,” he said.

“We also continue to provide essential front line services. But there is no question that the pandemic has resulted in some significant additional costs to the council. We will be actively collating and reporting on these costs in due course.”

Extra funding for councils in England has already been announced from the UK Government but Coutts said it is still unclear how the Scottish Government will approach the issue.

He expects finance secretary Kate Forbes to outline the government’s plans.

More generally, the SIC leader said in addition to the extra costs, the pandemic will have a “lasting societal and economic impact” in Shetland.

“The loss of income and employment in our community will be very significant for individuals and households,” Coutts said.

“This will have a knock on impact on council services. This will be increasingly in the forefront of our minds as we move forward.”