Highland Council Budget Leader Disappointed With Scottish Budget Announcements
18th December 2016
Reacting to the Scottish Government's Budget Settlement for 2017-18, Budget Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Bill Fernie said:"Disappointingly, our worst predictions are realised in that there has been a real cash cut to councils of £350 million. The devil will be in the detail, but an early analysis equates this to a significant cut in the grant to our core budget. Further clarification is being sought on the extent of this.
"Two of the additional income streams announced are ring-fenced for educational attainment and to Health and Social Care, which is to be paid through the Health budget. These do not increase our core budget and therefore do not reduce the budget gap that the Council is facing.
“The Scottish Government has increased higher council tax bands substantially with the “Council Tax multiplier". This will mean higher bills for council tax payers in bands E and above.
“However, I am relieved to see that, following a motion agreed at The Highland Council, that money raised in Highland should stay in Highland, the Scottish Government are now allowing councils to retain this extra income with no constraints. This will help to reduce our Budget Gap by about £5million, leaving us having to find savings of possibly £20m to £25million.
“A cut to our budget on this scale will mean cuts to services and difficult decisions to be made. We will also need to increase our income and this may include increased charges and proposals to raise local council tax."
Cllr Fernie added: “We are currently preparing a range of potential draft budget options for discussion with staff, members and communities, prior to decisions in February 2017. We remain open to listening to the views of service users and the staff providing those services, and we are seeking consensus across the chamber in order to make the best, most pragmatic decisions for the people of Highland.”
Leader of the Council Margaret Davidson said: “The Scottish Government settlement effectively hands us money with one hand and takes it away with the other. Taking into account existing pressures and ring-fenced services, this leaves us with a huge budget gap. At least we now have a better idea of where we stand and where we stand is over a big hole in our budget, which will undoubtedly mean stopping or reducing some services. The planning and ground work to date has been useful, and we will now have to consult on a range of options to balance our budget.”
The 2017 Highland Council election has been officially called today (Monday 13 March) with the Returning Officer seeking nominations from candidates wishing to stand in the local government elections which take place on Thursday 4 May. A total of 74 Councillors will be appointed to represent the Council in 21 electoral wards, each with three or four elected members.
Wipro has opened a new delivery centre in Inverness as part of our growth plan and service delivery for the Highland Council. 40 to 50 staff will be based at Moray House in the city centre.
The Highland Council has agreed all the recommendations made by the Redesign Board. The Board proposes a significant shift to localism.
On Thursday 9th March, the Council approved £1million additional capital monies to be spent on Highland roads. The Scottish Government, announced on 2 February 2017, an additional Capital Grant for Highland Council of £2.046m for 2017/18 and members have agreed to allocate £1million of this to roads.
The Highland Council has agreed to extend funding to two CAB projects of up to £50,000. The Mental Health and Midwifery projects provide money and welfare advice to pregnant mums and those experiencing mental ill health.
The first of the central beams to connect the north and south side of the West Link bridge, Inverness were put in place today, 6 March 2017. The centre span beams are 70m in length and weight 70 tonnes each.
The Highland Council has won a national award for a project aimed at cutting the cost of heating Highland homes. The Scottish Energy Efficiency and Health Homes Award, presented during an award ceremony held in Glasgow, recognised the Council's work to assist with reducing energy use in Highland homes through the Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland - Area Based Scheme (HEEPS-ABS) and the particular drive to identify and assist homes that are in fuel poverty or vulnerable to the cost of energy.
A paper going to the Council meeting on 9 March will propose a £1 million spend of additional capital monies on roads infrastructure. The Scottish Government, announced on 2 February 2017, an additional Capital Grant for Highland Council of £2.046 million for 2017/18 and a paper to council will ask members to consider whether to allocate £1 million of this to roads.
The Redesign Board met on 28 February to agree its recommendations on the redesign of the Council. The Board proposes a significant shift to localism.
People looking for shortcuts to their most used pages on Highland Council's website via their Smart phones can now use Emoji to take them there faster. Used in electronic messages and web pages, Emoji are used much like Emoticons and exist in various symbols including facial expressions, common objects, places and types of weather, and animals.
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