Council / Councillors commit up to £500k for cost of living support

COUNCILLORS have agreed to commit up to £500,000 from outside funding to put towards supporting cost of living pressures in Shetland this winter.

But concern was raised as to why the council was using the Crown Estate funding in this way, with some councillors saying welfare was a government matter.

However, elected members were happy to approve the funding – with the consensus that demand will be high.

It comes as a ‘warm place’ is being set up in the Carnegie Hall in Sandwick to offer people respite from rising energy bills.

The cost of living support funding would come via net revenues from Crown Estate Scotland assets up to 12 miles at sea, which are passed on to local authorities.

The council already provides a range of support measures for people struggling financially, but there is an acceptance that more should be done over the winter despite government intervention.


A report to elected members said there are two key purposes behind the funding plans.

One is to support households experiencing challenging financial pressures “who have already received support through the Scottish Welfare Fund and Fuelbank Foundation”. The eligibility criteria is yet to be established.

Another strand is to support communities and services to deliver activities through the autumn and winter as they normally would do.

“This scheme would remove any cost barriers to communities wishing to run activities that enable people to get together in a warm space, possibly with food and transport,” the report added.

Depute leader Gary Robinson said he felt the council was in a “difficult position” due to its own financial situation, which continues to be deemed unsustainable.

“Shetland Islands Council does not have the main responsibility for welfare, government does,” he said.

“I think the more that we step into that space, the less likely we are to encourage them to do actually something about their responsibility.”

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Meanwhile North Isles member Duncan Anderson said using the Crown Estate funding in this way was not the original intention of the scheme, which was “community improvement projects”.

“If needs must we’ll do it, but I don’t think it’s really what the scheme was set up for in the first place.”

And Shetland Central’s Davie Sandison echoed his colleagues’ concerns, adding that he would not want the cost of living fund “ring-fenced” for future years – “I think we need to return to it when we know more of the actual demand”.

Shetland Central’s Ian Scott also repeated his view that “Shetland and Orkney voted for austerity” by electing Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael, who was part of the coalition government with the Conservatives in the 2010s.

SNP member Robbie McGregor also took aim at the Westminster government.


Meanwhile North Isles member Robert Thomson said during debate: “I think there is another body in Shetland that has quite substantial financial resources, and they have so far been quite quiet on this subject.

“I think they might want to reflect on that and put their hands in their pockets.”

Earlier this month the chairman of Shetland Charitable Trust told Shetland News that the organisation will not be able to actively intervene in the growing cost of living crisis.

Charitable trust not a ‘rainy day fund’

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