Argyll and Bute’s ‘unique challenges’ raised with Scottish Minister
Minister Kate Forbes, Aileen Morton and Pippa Milne.
By Aileen MacLennan
Argyll and Bute’s Council Leader raised the challenges facing the area with Scotland’s Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, at a positive meeting on Friday (17 January).
Councillor Aileen Morton, along with council Chief Executive Pippa Milne, met with Kate Forbes to discuss the geographic, population and financial challenges that set Argyll and Bute apart from other areas.
Councillor Morton said: “Argyll and Bute is a fantastic place with huge potential for economic growth that would benefit local communities and the wider Scottish economy. We have award winning people and businesses, and a lifestyle that people love.
At the same time though, this is an area that faces a unique combination of challenges.
Geographically we have the second largest mainland area and the highest number of inhabited islands of all of Scotland’s councils. We therefore deliver services most other councils do not, such as air and ferry services.
Our population is declining and ageing. We must invest significantly in regeneration that will attract people and jobs to the area.
Argyll and Bute’s council however has had the third highest reduction of all of Scotland’s councils in its Scottish Government funding over the past few years.
Together these challenges are having a significant effect on the decisions the council is having to make about how best to serve Argyll and Bute’s day-to-day and longer term needs.
It is crucial therefore that we raise understanding, at all levels, of Argyll and Bute’s challenges and opportunities.
Our meeting with Kate Forbes was a very positive step in developing focus on Argyll and Bute at ministerial level.”
Since 2013 Scottish Government funding per head for Argyll and Bute has reduced by £299 in real terms, compared to the Scottish average of £160 per head. (Source: SPICE Local Government Finance – Facts and Figures 2013-14 to 2019-20).
Despite having the highest number of inhabited islands, Argyll and Bute is not classed as an island authority and does not benefit from Special Islands Needs Allowance (SINA) to the same extent as ‘island authorities’.