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Highland Council launches phase two of Budget Consultation

28th October 2014

The Highland Council has launched a consultation paper with detailed proposals for saving over £15 million towards a total budget cut of £64 million over the next five years.

The Council has already achieved over £77.7m of cuts, including some through efficiency savings over the past 5 years. The grant the Council receives continues to reduce in real terms due to inflation and increasing costs and the cash grant is not expected to increase over the next 4 years, which leaves a budget gap of £64 million.

Budget Leader, Councillor Maxine Smith said: "These are very difficult times for public services and we are not alone in facing very difficult decisions along with other councils across Scotland.

"The scale of the savings required means that we must now look at changing the way we provide some services and reducing others. This will mean a reduction in the number of staff we employ and the number of buildings we use, and will impact on the services we provide.

"We have consulted extensively already during phase one and we now have a number of detailed proposals which we are considering. We want to hear how these cuts would affect people and communities. We will be consulting the views of 2800 on the Citizens' Panel, over 200 groups registered for the new Communities Panel and we are running 10 focus groups for people with particular needs. We are also discussing proposals with our partners and the Third Sector Interface which has over 2000 community groups in its network."

Director of Finance Derek Yule said: "These proposals amount to £15.4 million of savings. We are also proposing other savings which focus on our internal processes and administration. These proposals don't directly impact on front-line services, but mean we will be leaner and more efficient. Work continues to identify savings to achieve the full £64 million."

Michelle Morris, Depute Chief Executive added: "The Council maintains its commitment to no compulsory redundancies wherever possible. Working with trade unions and staff we have a good track record in using redeployment and vacancy control to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies."

Key Proposals
Modernising front line services
£827,000
• Doing things differently
£6.089 million
• Stopping or doing things less frequently
£2.677 million
• Increasing income through fees and charges
£743,000
• Targeting support for those who need it most
£462,000
• Thinking local fi rst
£530,000

Distance learning for secondary education
£600,000

Reprioritising grants for arts, sports and culture
£714,000

Secondary Education - Reducing Staffi ng by 1%
£600,000

Re-prioritising how we provide winter maintenance
£600,000

Music tuition
£127,000

Supporting trainees
£100,000

Primary Education - Changing time spent in class
Up to £3.2 million

Our approach to providing public toilets
Up to £575,000

Reviewing how we clean our buildings
£400,000

Reducing the number of schools
£850,000

Further reductions in the number of schools
further Highland Review

Changing how grass cutting is provided
£360,000

INCREASING INCOME THROUGH FEES AND CHARGES
Charging for burials, cremations and lairs
£361,000

Our approach to charging in our car parks
Up to £382,000
Currently, the Council only charges for its car parks
in Aviemore, Fort William, Portree and Inverness. The
income from these charges is used to maintain car parks
across all Council areas whether charges are made or not.

Reduce ward budgets for discretionary spending.
£182,000

Targeting employability services
£280,000

Frequency of bin collections
£380,000

Funding to High Life Highland, Inverness Leisure and
Eden Court
£1.1 million

Changes in maintenance of fl ower beds and closure
of plant nurseries
£367,000

The budget consultation paper with more details can be found on our website at www.highland.gov.uk/budgetconsultation , or you can request a paper copy at a service point.

 

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