Campaigners have warned of a "major blow" to Gaelic television after George Osborne quietly axed UK Government funding.

The Chancellor did not renew a £1 million-a-year grant from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

S4C, the Welsh channel, has also seen a large chunk of its support cut as it also emerged that BBC Three is to move online from February.

The £1m amounts to around five per cent of Gaelic channel BBC Alba’s budget, but 100 per cent of the cash it receives from UK ministers.

Two years ago the then Culture Secretary Maria Miller described the service as playing a "crucial role in the cultural and economic well-being of Scotland".

She also said that the Scottish Gaelic language was an "integral part of our incredibly diverse culture".

And she said that the sum provided the "funding certainty that the channel needs to continue bringing high-quality Gaelic language programmes to the small screen".

DCMS sources insisted that the two previous £1m payments were “one-off” support for the service.

A source said: “No further funding is currently planned”.

Donald Campbell, chief executive of MG ALBA, the organisation that runs the BBC Alba station, said: “We are aware of the decision made by DCMS to cut our funding.

He added that he was grateful for the support received this year and last and would "continue to engage with DCMS as we seek other ways for the UK Government to support Gaelic broadcasting”.

Gaelic television is also funded by the Scottish Government to the tune of £12.8m.

The SNP called on DCMS to abandon the plans.

SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell said: “The decision to remove all UK Government funding for Gaelic broadcasting in Scotland will come as a major blow to BBC Alba and is yet another sign that Scotland is under-served by the public service broadcasting status quo.

He said that BBC Alba serves an audience of 700,000 people, many more than the number of Gaelic speakers.

"It is no surprise so many people are watching when they are producing quality dramas like Bannan – the first Gaelic drama made by the BBC for decades – and are providing coverage of Scottish rugby," he said.

“While the BBC is a world-renowned broadcaster, it is currently under-serving Scotland.

“People will rightly ask why the UK Government is cutting funding for a successful public sector broadcaster in the midst of the BBC Charter Review?

"They should abandon these misguided plans, which will be detrimental to the development of the language and the Scottish creative sector.”

The UK Government funding was guaranteed by Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Highland MP, when he was chief secretary of the Treasury.

The Scotland Bill currently going through Westminster will also devolve the power make appointments to the governing board of the channel to the Scottish Government.

DCMS said that Conservative ministers were committed to reviewing minority language broadcasting as part of the ongoing BBC Charter Review.