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Politics / SIC ferry funding gap covered in full again

SHETLAND Islands Council will have the funding gap for running its internal ferry services covered again in full in the next financial year.

A total of £19.2 million has been included for inter-island ferries in the Scottish Government’s budget for 2022/23, which was published on Thursday afternoon.

This was the same as in the current financial year – but Shetland Islands Council’s request for 2022/23 had remained the same.

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Meanwhile NHS Shetland’s indicative core funding will increase from £54.6 million to £57 million.

More than £51 million has also been earmarked for islands and rural services.

The funding will be used to support the delivery of activities linked to the national islands plan and the proposal to introduce a new islands bond fund.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes.

The budget was announced by finance secretary Kate Forbes in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday afternoon.

More generally there is an overall funding package of almost £12.5 billion for local authorities – with the government saying this represents a “like with like real terms increase of 4.5 per cent and a fair settlement for councils”.

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The freeze on council tax will also be removed in 2022/23, giving local authorities flexibility on setting rates.

There is a commitment to invest at least £2 billion in infrastructure initiatives that will support green jobs and accelerate efforts to become a net-zero economy.

The government has also pledged record funding of £18 billion for health and social care in Scotland.

More than £830 million has been earmarked for affordable housing, while there is £53 million to protect and restore nature, including peatlands.

There will also be a public sector wage floor of £10.50 per hour from April 2022, with additional funding for local government to ensure this applies to adult social care workers in commissioned services.

Forbes said: “The 2022-2023 budget addresses our key priorities, targets resources for low income households and paves the way for future investment over the life of this parliament. It is a budget of choices.

“My last two budgets have been shaped by our experiences of Covid but we are now lifting our eyes to the future. This is a transitional budget, as people, businesses and services get back on their feet.”

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