The Scottish Government has announced an extra £1million in funding for island communities which have been disproportionately affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

Well-documented issues with ferries and other local issues have caused discontent in recent months, with a majority of councillors in Orkney calling for the local authority to investigate constitutional change options - including going independent.

Shetland has called for greater infrastructure investment and funding from Holyrood, while islanders on South Uist in the Hebrides staged a mass protest at repeated ferry issues.

The ongoing cost-of-living crisis has hit islands hard, due to the colder climate, higher fuel and energy costs and reduced consumer choice.

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Estimates by Shetland Islands Council suggest that the costs of living in some island areas are 20 to 65 per cent higher than the UK average.

In response the Scottish Government has announced £1m in new funding for island communities.

It will be distributed to six local authorities responsible for Scotland's islands, with support targeted where they feel it will be most effective and towards people, communities and businesses who are struggling the most.

Argyll & Bute will be given £141,000; Highland £105,000; Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Outer Hebrides) £257,000; North Ayrshire - which includes Arran and the Cumbraes - £57,000; Orkney £218,000 and Shetland £222,000.

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.

The Herald: A wetland area forming peat near Eshaness, Northmavine on Mainland, Shetland, UK. Taken on a sunny

“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 £1 million of additional funding to help them target support where they have the most concerns.”

The additional £1 million funding is for the 2023-24 financial year and will be distributed to the six island local authorities through the 2023/24 Local Government Revenue Grant. It brings the total support provided by the fund to £2.4 million.

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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.