Local Conservative politicians have expressed concern that the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar stands to lose out financially as the Scottish Government refuses to confirm that it will pass on extra funding from the UK Government to local authorities.
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron and CnES Councillor Ranald Fraser spoke out yesterday (Friday May 1) after Finance Secretary Kate Forbes failed to commit to passing on £155 million to help local government combat coronavirus, in the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Cameron, the Scottish Conservative Shadow Finance Secretary, said: “This is no time for the Scottish Government to do things differently just for the sake of it.
“Kate Forbes needs to think again and assure our councils that the money intended for them, actually goes to them.
“The council is playing a vital role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic in partnership with the NHS, particularly in delivering social care to the most vulnerable.
“It is also responsible for delivering an incredibly important range of essential services such as waste collection, street cleaning and education.
“That needs to be reflected in the financial settlement it receives, as intended by the UK Government through the extra funding allocation.”
Councillor Ranald Fraser (Sgir’ Uige Agus Ceann A Tuath Nan Loch ward) added: “We are playing a vital part in the response to COVID-19 here in the Western Isles.
“Our workforce is doing a fantastic job and the community has rallied round.
“But without national government support the council will really be struggling.
“It has been over a week since the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ call for the money to be passed on and I hope we hear confirmation of this very soon.
“That money really should just be passed on.”
The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in April that councils south of the border will be supported by an extra £1.6 billion from the UK government. As a result an extra £155m is provided to the Scottish Government through the Barnett Formula as "consequentials".