Concern over funding announcement

Concern over funding announcement
06 March 2019

The Leader of Orkney Islands Council has expressed his concern that the Scottish Government is providing reduced funding for the county’s internal ferry service for the year ahead.

The £5.3 million announced by the Government is £200,000 less than the ferries funding awarded for the current financial year – and £1.5 million less than the £6.8 million the Council requested for 2019-2020.

Councillor James Stockan said: “This is a considerable disappointment for us and leaves the Council in a very difficult position.

“The amount we requested would have covered the full running costs of the inter-island ferry service over the next 12 months, taking into account factors such as inflation and the ever-increasing burden of operating an ageing fleet of vessels.

“We were left with little option but to increase Orkney Ferries’ fares by 3% for the year ahead. This will help offset the reduction in Government funding. But it was a decision taken with a heavy heart, because we are all too aware that our fares are among the highest in Scotland and that this will be a burden for already vulnerable communities.

“We will continue to fight for fair and just funding for our lifeline inter-island ferry service.”

The increase to ferry fares was agreed at a meeting of the Full Council which set the Council’s budget for 2019-2020.

Elected Members decided that £83.7 million should be spent on running Council services over the next 12 months.

A savings target of £350,000 for the next financial year was also agreed. This is considerably less than the average savings of £1.6 million made each year by the Council between 2011 and 2019. The target for 2019-2020 can be achieved without the need to reduce the Council’s workforce.

In setting the budget, Members agreed to draw down £6.1 million from the Council’s reserves. This is considerably higher than the usual contribution and would be unsustainable if it was to continue year after year.

It was also agreed that:

  • Council Tax charges should rise by 4.79%, which will increase the Band D annual charge from £1100 to £1153.
  • Existing fees and charges for Council services should increase by at least 3% from 1 April. Exceptions are fees for planning applications and building warrants, licensing, trade waste collections, and social care charges that are set by legislation.
  • Following a recent consultation exercise, new charges will be introduced for electric vehicle charging; replacement refuse bins; collecting and kennelling stray dogs; planning permission amendments; and caravans, motorhomes and tents using carparks and other Council land.
  • Following the same exercise, there will be above-average increases in charges for longer-than-permitted stays at car parks; special collections and disposal of bulky household waste (but not in the North and South Isles); and road closures for road works.

The decision that Council Tax bills in Orkney should increase by 4.79% from April 1 will bring in an additional £415,800 in revenue for OIC. An increase in the number of Band D properties will result in an additional income of £142,200, with a surcharge on empty properties expected to raise £67,700 over the year ahead.

The following Council Tax charges will apply in Orkney for the year ahead:

BandCouncil Tax 2019 to 2020Council Tax 2018 to 2019
A. £768.67. £733.33.
B. £896.78. £855.56.
C. £1,024.89. £977.78.
D. £1,153.00. £1,100.00.
E. £1,514.91. £1,445.28.
F. £1,873.63. £1,787.50.
G. £2,257.96. £2,154.17.
H. £2,824.85. £2,695.00.

Households with only one adult living in the property will continue to receive a discount of 25% on the charges detailed above.

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

Email: customerservice@orkney.gov.uk

Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS