Caithness Map :: Links to Site Map Paying too much for broadband? Move to PlusNet broadband and save£££s. Free setup now available - terms apply. PlusNet broadband.  

 

Highland Council Budget - Independent Councillors Protect Vital Services Despite Cuts

10th February 2017

Photograph of Highland Council Budget - Independent Councillors Protect Vital Services Despite Cuts

The Council's budget gap for 2017/18, the difference between required expenditure and income, is £20.344m. Budget proposals include increasing the rates of Council Tax by the maximum allowed 3%. This would generate additional income of £3.510m. Together with savings agreed by Council in December 2014 and February 2016, a budget gap of £10.410m remains.

The Administration Budget Group have been working with officers to develop new proposals to bridge the remaining budget gap.

An estimated 66.6 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) posts will be deleted in order to deliver these proposals along with 55.2 FTE posts associated with the savings from previous years.

Budget Leader Cllr Bill Fernie said: "We have looked carefully at all the savings and have done our best to reduce savings where we can to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities. This means that we can significantly reduce the savings which were originally proposed for Childcare and Early Learning. Also, some of the cuts to the £4 million funding which goes to third sector groups, will now not be taken. We have also significantly reduced the planned cut to adult services.

"£20 million is still a huge amount to take out of our budget, but we are trying our best to mitigate the impact of these savings on communities and on our staff.

"The level of staffing reductions required is considerably lower than the amount anticipated during the earlier stages of the budget process. This is due to the reduced budget gap as a result of changes in the grant funding settlement and we have sought to minimise the impact on staffing by focusing the savings proposals on areas of non-pay and income budgets.

"Of the posts affected by our final savings proposals, a significant number are already vacant. Many of the posts relating to savings approved in prior years have already been deleted.

"Significant consultation has taken place with Trade Unions and a workforce management strategy including the use of recruitment controls and the reduced use of agency staff has been introduced in order to identify opportunities for the redeployment of staff at risk and to reduce the need for compulsory redundancies."

Cllr Fernie went on to say: "The Council has made significant progress in the last year on Service Redesign, with final reports due to be reported to Council in March. This work will form a key element of the work required for the Council to prioritise service delivery for the future.

The budget proposals developed have been informed by a range of information including previous budget consultation exercises, information gathered through the re-design process including engagement with staff and trade unions, public engagement and engagement with partner organisations.

A survey to the Citizens' Panel was undertaken in December which focused on areas associated with the service Re-design reviews. These focused on waste, transport, street lighting, street cleaning and public toilets. The findings from this have assisted in developing these reviews and some associated budget proposals for 2017/18, with others being developed for future years. The report will be available on the Council's website.

In January, a public engagement exercise was launched using a Budget Simulator. This approach, used by a number of Local Authorities in recent years, enabled the public to try and balance the Council's budget by making reductions in some areas of service whilst considering the potential consequences of any change. The purpose of this engagement exercise was not to consult on specific budget proposals, but to consider the budget overall and to promote awareness of the challenges facing the Council and consequences of service reductions, whilst providing the Council with a broad understanding of respondents' priorities.

1,026 people submitted a budget over the two and a half week period that the tool was available for. The average budget produced overall, identified reductions in spend across all areas. Around 20% of those submitting a budget also left comments. These were wide ranging in nature and included suggestions for additional income generation, for efficiencies and for providing services differently. A number of comments were received on the simulator itself. In the main these were very positive, reflecting how difficult the challenge was but welcoming the opportunity to contribute. A summary report of the findings will be made available on the Council's website.

The final budget will be debated and agreed on Thursday 16th February 2017.

Full details of the proposed budget can be seen at -

http://www.highland.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/3814/highland_council

PHOTO

Independent Highland Councillors Budget Team

Cllr Alistair Mackinnon, Cllr Bill Fernie, Cllr Ben Thomson, Cllr Matthew Reiss. Budget team member Cllr Jaci Douglas is missing from the photo.

 

Related Businesses

 

Related Articles

18/2/2017
New Polling Scheme Approved For Council Election
Members of the Communities and Partnership Committee have approved a new Polling Scheme to come into effect for the Election to Highland Council on the 4 May 2017.   The decision comes after a review of Polling Places during which the public, politicians, community groups and those with expertise in access to premises for disabled people were invited to comment on the existing and proposed changes arrangements for Polling Districts and Polling Places.  
18/2/2017
Pentland Spatial Plan Nominated for Award
The pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan is nominated for prestigious planning industry award.   The Plan was developed by a working group consisting of Marine Scotland, Highland Council and Orkney Islands Council who are a finalist in the category for Excellence in Plan Making Practice at the Royal Town Planning Institute's (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence (external link) 2017.  
16/2/2017
The Highland Council has agreed a budget for 2017-18
The Highland Council has agreed a budget for 2017-18, which includes a council tax increase of 3%.  A package of £10.689m savings were agreed for 2017-18, on top of £5.824m savings agreed in previous budgets.  
16/2/2017
2017/2018 Council Tax Levels Set For Highland
From 1 April 2017 the Scottish Government is changing the basis on which properties are assessed for Council Tax and this will increase the charge for Council Tax properties that are banded E to H.  The Highland Council has no discretion in this matter and must apply these increases to the Council Tax charges from 1 April 2017.  
14/2/2017
My World of Work Live! cutting-edge careers spaces open in Church StreetThumbnail for article : My World of Work Live! cutting-edge careers spaces open in Church Street
New cutting-edge careers spaces aimed at inspiring youngsters have opened in Inverness.   Skills Development Scotland (SDS) Chair John F.  
14/2/2017
Leader Welcomes News Of Expanded Amsterdam Connection
The Leader of The Highland Council, Margaret Davidson (Independent), has welcomed KLM's announcement today of a second daily service from Inverness to Amsterdam starting from 15 May 2017 to complement the existing service.   Cllr Davidson said: "This news of a second daily flight between Inverness and Amsterdam is splendid news! This expanded service means we are better able to make the most of global connections between Schiphol and key markets throughout the world.  
14/2/2017
Schools Budgets To Be Protected In Highland Budget Proposals
In another challenging financial year, the Highland Council Administration has pledged to protect education services in the 2017/18 budget.   The Highland Council will consider next year's budget at its meeting on Thursday 16 February.  
14/2/2017
Improved safety measures for Miller Academy pupils
Member of the Caithness Area Committee have given the go-ahead to a project to improve the safety of pupils walking and cycling to and from Miller Academy in Thurso.   £20,000 will be spent creating a footpath and installing a barrier with linings on the ground to make the usage of the drop off area at the school safer for pupils.  
13/2/2017
Keeping the Highlands beautiful - Street Cleaning cuts reduced by two thirds
Proposals going before The Highland Council on Thursday propose a reduction of £220,000 from a total budget of £3.029 million.   Budget Leader, Cllr Bill Fernie said: "In our original proposals were looking at a cut of £660,000 from the street cleaning budget, so the cut we are now proposing is significantly less by two thirds.  
13/2/2017
Sale unlocks the next chapter for Harbour Quay, WickThumbnail for article : Sale unlocks the next chapter for Harbour Quay, Wick
The long-term future of a section of Harbour Quay in Wick was secured last week when The Highland Council sold the historic buildings to Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited (BOWL), ahead of plans to develop the disused buildings as part of the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Base for the Beatrice offshore windfarm development.   This landmark transaction welcomes significant investment and job creation within the Conservation Area of Lower Pulteneytown.  

[Printer Friendly Version]