Fresh funding to ease cost of living impact on islanders
Islanders facing high fuel, food and energy costs are to receive an additional £1 million in support to help meet cost of living pressures.
The new funding will be delivered through the Islands Cost Crisis Emergency Fund to help mitigate against some of the unique cost of living challenges faced by people living on Scotland’s islands.
This includes a colder climate, higher fuel and energy costs and reduced consumer choice. The fund criteria have also been extended to potentially include struggling local businesses.
The additional funding will be distributed by the six island local authorities, with support targeted where they feel it will be most effective and towards people, communities and businesses who are struggling the most.
Previous initiatives funded by the Islands Cost Crisis Emergency Fund include food bank grants, Love Local food voucher cards and free school breakfasts.
Announcing the funding while visiting Shetland, local government empowerment minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “No one in Scotland has been shielded from the cost of living crisis – which has been exacerbated by the inflationary crisis caused by UK Government actions. But islanders often face even greater challenges, due to the unique circumstances of island life.
“Island council leaders have seen the cost of living crisis become more entrenched in their communities. As Minister responsible for local government, I am determined to step up and help those who need it the most even when the UK Government is turning its back on people.
“We have listened to island local authorities and are providing this £1m of additional funding to help them target support where they have the most concerns.”
Councillor Maureen Chalmers, COSLA’s community wellbeing spokesperson said: “The cost-of-living crisis continues to have a disproportionate impact on our island communities, with some areas facing costs up to 65% higher than on the mainland.
“This funding will allow for the continuation of past measures made possible by the Fund such as electricity vouchers, provision of meals and supporting local food initiatives.
“We appreciate the joint work which has taken place between Scottish and local government to ensure this funding is available to our most vulnerable islands communities before the winter.”
The Scottish Government has also launched a public consultation to review the current priorities of the National Islands Plan, five years after it was first published, which island communities are being invited to respond to.