Fares on ferries serving some of the most remote communities in Scotland will be frozen for six months, the Scottish government has confirmed.

Ticket prices on the Northern Isles, Clyde and Hebrides ferry networks will be held at current levels from April until the end of September in a bid to help people and businesses from Scotland’s rural and island communities recover from disruption to services.

Cancelled ferries over recent months have resulted in issues with delivering supplies to islands.

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Last month, a Holyrood consultation said provision of ferries for Scotland’s island communities is “well below” reasonable levels.

In June, a group of island community representatives vented their anger over unreliable ferry services to the transport committee.

Margaret Morrison, chairwoman of the Harris Transport Forum, said it had “reached an all-time critical situation”.

Two ferries are being built in Port Glasgow but these have suffered serious delays and controversy over the last few years.

The fare freeze will allow operators to release their timetables for April onwards.

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth said: “The Scottish Government is acutely aware of the particular challenges faced by our island communities, where the ongoing cost-of-living impacts are arguably more challenging than in any other part of the country.

“Ministers are also mindful of the disruption on the ferry network in recent times – particularly in relation to the Clyde and Hebrides network.

“This fares freeze is the right thing for our island communities and I hope it will go some way to encouraging tourism this summer as island businesses continue to recover from the pandemic.

“We will consider fares policy in the longer term as part of both the Island Connectivity Plan and our wider “fair fares” review, to ensure that we continue to address the needs of Scotland’s islands.”