Councillors yesterday (Thursday) approved budget plans for the coming financial year at a meeting of Shetland Islands Council.
The Council faces some very significant financial challenges in the coming years, and these decisions begin the process required to bring its spending and service provision in line with its income and resources.
With members’ approval, each Directorate will now be working towards meeting the objectives originally set in their own areas, plus an additional 1% savings target across the whole Council for the 2023/24 financial year.
Emma Macdonald, Council Leader:
“We know we will still have to make unsustainable use of our reserves to cover the cost of running our services in the face of some significant challenges. However, in 2023/24 that figure is £4.8 million, compared to £5.1 million in 2022/23, and £8.1 million in 2021/22.
“Whilst we have spoken about money, budgets and the need for sustainability – we must not lose sight of what that money buys. Our purpose as a council is to ensure that everyone has access to the public services which our community needs to thrive.
“We make sure families have access to good local schools, affordable homes, transport services, and clean streets. We support the most vulnerable individuals and families in crisis and we enable our economy to grow so that everyone can access opportunities for work, to tackle poverty and disadvantage.
“Whilst we have difficult decisions to balance the books we must not fall into the trap of cuts that hit the poorest in our community the hardest.
“We’ve identified ways to bring our spending down right across the organisation, and inevitably that will have an impact on some services. We will be talking to the community about the changes and how we can work together to limit any negative effects.
“These are difficult times for everyone, and local authorities are no exception to that. We must change how we work to make sure our resources are focussed on the areas where they are needed most, and that we bring our spending in line with the funding available to us.”
The Council’s 2023/24 Budget Book and related financial documents can be found on the Council’s website