Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Monday 24th August 2020

COMHAIRLE MAY NEED TO SAVE £6.6M IN NEXT TWO YEARS

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have held a special meeting of the full Comhairle. A report before Councillors setting out a range of measures to deliver the Comhairle’s updated Corporate Strategy was agreed.

The report included financial savings required to bridge the projected financial shortfall over 2021/22 and 2022/23. All proposals will be subject to consultation and full impact assessments prior to decision by the Comhairle on implementation.

The Comhairle is bringing forward its budget setting process to take account of the difficult circumstances arising out of the COVID Pandemic. The Comhairle is potentially looking at a need for savings of £6.6m in the next two years.

Comhairle Leader Roddie Mackay said:

“Over the past 10 years the Comhairle’s approach to financial stringency has been a combination of efficiency savings, service redesign and maximising opportunities. However the circumstance facing us now are unprecedented although we will continue to work with COSLA, SOLACE, Directors of Finance and other organisations to lobby Government to recognize the extremely difficult situation for Councils. Essential to the success of any Budget Strategy is its alignment with the Corporate Strategy, with the political priorities agreed by Elected Members, and with other plans, such as our Workforce Strategy.

“COVID has been as unsettling to public finances across Scotland and the UK as it has been unwelcome in its effects. Our job is to prepare, plan, mitigate and support each other through this crisis and this process.”

 

ISLAND SPORTS FACILITIES TO REOPEN

The First Minister announced recently that gyms and swimming pools can look to reopen following national guidance from 31st August.
A Comhairle Spokesperson said,
‘Our priority is getting our young people back to school. This will mean that up until the October school holidays there will be limited access to all facilities during the school day. This will be reviewed every three weeks.
‘It is important to emphasise that facilities will not be operating normally for some time – pool and gym sessions will need to be booked in advance, there will be a ‘pay as you go’ system in place until it is possible to fully reinstate the ‘Slàinte Mhath’ scheme.’
There will also be very limited capacity to meet social distancing and other national guidelines. More information can be found via the CnES website, social media and local press.

 

VOUCHER SCHEME TO ENSURE SUPERFAST BROADBAND ACCESS FOR ALL

Details of a voucher scheme to help ensure everyone in Scotland will have access to superfast broadband by the end of 2021 has been announced.
The Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme will provide funding of up to £5,000 to help homes and businesses not in scope of either Reaching 100% (R100) contracts or planned commercial investment to obtain superfast broadband where providers may not ordinarily go.
Interim vouchers of up to £400 are also being made available for premises where superfast broadband is planned for after the end of 2021 – with an additional £250 for those in the hardest-to-reach areas.
An online postcode checker has been launched to give homes and businesses information on superfast roll-out in their area as well as providing information on voucher scheme eligibility.
The R100 online postcode tracker is live now and more information about the R100 programme can be found on the Scottish Government website

 

TEENAGERS TO GET ACCESS TO POT OF MONEY OVER NEXT NINE YEARS

Thousands of teenagers in Scotland are set to benefit for the first time from money in Child Trust Funds (CTFs) that has been waiting for them since they were young children.
Since 2002, around 6.3 million CTF accounts have been set up across the UK, roughly 4.5 million by parents or guardians and a further 1.8 million set up by HMRC where parents or guardians did not open an account. In Scotland there are approximately 447,000 accounts.
This means some children do not know there are accounts in their name, so are unaware their money is waiting for them.
From 1 September 2020, the oldest children will turn 18 and be able to access their money. Around 55,000 accounts will mature each month and HMRC has created a simple online tool to help young people find out where their account is held. If a parent or guardian is unsure of where their child’s CTF account is held they can also use this tool.
For more information visit www.gov.uk/child-trust-funds