We’ve been asking the candidates in the upcoming council elections what their views on autonomy are. The specific questions we asked are:-
1. Do you believe Shetland should have more powers locally?
2. Do you think autonomy is something the next Council should investigate (as the Orkney Islands Council are taking steps to do)?
We shall be adding a page for each response as they come in.
Duncan Simpson – North Isles – Wir Shetland Member
In response to your email.
1. Yes I believe Shetland should have much more power locally. Having been a member of Wir Shetland from the outset this is something I have believed in for a long time. I think we are unfairly treated by Westminster and Holyrood and that we have the resources here to manage our own affairs. Of course this would not happen overnight but I believe the OIOF campaign, while I have always supported it’s aims, does not go far enough and has not made enough tangible progress.
Our needs are often overlooked or ignored by the powers-that-be South of Fair Isle. There are a multitude of examples of self governing island territories (Faroe, Isle of Man, the Falklands) which we could emulate with our own version of autonomy.
2. Yes. In my manifesto I state that I would like to see the next Council commission a feasibility study into the various options for self governance and associated socio-economic benefits. I believe when the facts and figures are laid out in black and white people will be convinced it is an extremely attractive option for our future. The financial information we have received so far indicates Shetland contributes;
- Income tax (gross of tax credits): £60M (liabilities 2013/14 latest figures)
- Capital Gains Tax: £1.3M (liabilities 2015/16 latest figures)
- Corporation Tax: £18.73M (liabilities 2014/15 latest figures)
- Council Tax: £8.55M (SIC 2016 figures)
- Value Added Tax: Conservative Estimate £73M (estimate calculated; VAT is 6.6% of UK economy, Shetland’s economy worth £1.1Billion in 2010. 6.6% of £1.1Billion is £73M. Conservative because Shetland’s economy has grown since 2011 and this also does not take inflation into account.)
- Business Rates: £17.454M (Scottish Local Government Financial Statistics 2015-16)
The figures (5 confirmed and one estimate) show we are paying in approximately £180million from these 6 taxes. There are 21 other taxes which we have not yet obtained figures for, some of which (e.g. National Insurance, Fuel Duty) are likely to be large sums.
The above is just a glimpse of the financial case for a self governing Shetland. I hope within the next Council we can make a proper case for autonomy.