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Council / Proposed government funding settlement ‘disappointing’, says council leader

Shetland Islands Council leader Steven Coutts. Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND Islands Council faces a “significant real terms cut” in revenue funding from the Scottish Government in the next financial year, according to leader Steven Coutts.

The council’s funding from the government for public services is proposed to rise by 1.6 per cent – the second lowest increase of all of Scotland’s local authorities.

But Coutts said with “inflation running at over 4.5 per cent” this represents a real terms cut.

Only Orkney, at 1.5 per cent, has a lower percentage increase from the current financial year.

The government said across Scotland there is a real terms increase in revenue support on the cards of 4.9 per cent.

In 2022/23 councils in Scotland will also have the ability to raise council tax.

The figures show that Shetland Islands Council is in line to receive revenue funding of £98.8 million in 2022/23, up from £97.3 million.

This includes ring-fenced money for running internal ferries, which is worth around £17 million in total and again includes cash to cover the council’s funding gap.

The council is also in line to receive around £5.7 million in capital grant money.

Coutts described it as a “disappointing settlement” for local councils.

“There also does not appear to be any additional funding to reflect the ongoing impact of the pandemic on our services,” he added.

“The budget needs to go through parliamentary scrutiny, and then we will look to set our own budget in February.

“It gets ever more challenging each year with continuing real term cuts and increased demand.”

Finance secretary Kate Forbes, however, said the government is “providing councils with a real terms increase to their budgets for the coming year of more than five per cent”.

“Local authorities are key partners with government as we tackle the pandemic and protect our communities, businesses and public services.

“As we move forward, they will play an important leadership role in creating a greener, fairer and more prosperous Scotland.”