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

28/4/2017
Digital Café challenges Highlanders to save money
People in the Highlands are being invited to drop in to new Digital Café sessions which could save them significant amounts of money.   The Highland Council in partnership with other Highland Social Landlords and the social enterprise company Libertie are hosting a series of mobile Digital Café events during May 2017.  
20/4/2017
Highland Council Signs New Deal To Save Millions
Mears signs new cost savings deal on PPP Highland schools project.   Mears has signed a new deal with the Highland Council which will see millions of pounds saved over the lifetime of the Private Public Partnership (PPP) Highland Schools Project.  
13/4/2017
Motorists advised of temporary traffic restrictions for Etape Loch Ness 2017
The Highland Council and partners are advising motorists of temporary road closures and speed restrictions which will be in place next weekend (22 - 23 April) during the Etape Loch Ness cycling event.   The restrictions and prohibitions which are being put in place are for participants' safety and to allow the Etape to take place on public roads.  
12/4/2017
Trading Standards take action against Fireplace Business
A Local business has been found in contempt of court after breaching an Enforcement Order previously issued following action taken by Highland Council Trading Standards.   On the 12th April 2017 at Inverness Sherriff Court Ms Diane Urquhart, Director of Inverness Fireplace and Heating Centre and Mr Michael Armour also of Inverness Fireplace and Heating Centre were found in breach of an Enforcement Order issued under the Enterprise Act 2002 and in contempt of court.  
12/4/2017
Non-domestic Rates 2017/2018 - Transitional Relief (TR) scheme
The Highland Council advises that Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) bills for 2017/18 are now being issued.   NDR is also known as Business Rates.  
10/4/2017
Council Elections - Registration and postal voting deadlines imminent
Voters are reminded of the deadlines for both registering to vote and applying to vote by post in the forthcoming Highland Council elections on Thursday 4 May.   Registration: To be able to vote in the elections, voters must be 16 years or over on 4 May 2017 and must be registered to vote.  
4/4/2017
City-Region Deal - significant long term benefits anticipated
In response to a call for evidence on the impact of city-region deals in Scotland, by a Scottish Parliament Committee, Highland Council Director of Development and Infrastructure, Stuart Black said:"It is very early days to assess the impact of the City-Region Deal, however, it is anticipated that the impact of the Deal on Inverness and the wider Highland region will be significant in securing the long term productivity and economic growth of the region and position it as a region of digital opportunity.  Regional partners estimate that the City-Region Deal funding of £315m could unlock up to an additional £800 million of investment by the private sector.  
4/4/2017
Call for voters in Highland to register in time for elections this May
With Scottish Council elections taking place in just a few weeks, voters in the Highlands are being urged to make sure they are registered to vote and are able to take part on polling day, Thursday 4 May.   The call for voters to sign up comes as the Electoral Commission launches a national voter registration campaign to encourage as many people as possible to register ahead of the elections taking place this year.  
3/4/2017
Golspie and River Thurso Flood Protection Studies underwayThumbnail for article : Golspie and River Thurso Flood Protection Studies underway
The Highland Council has awarded a contract to a world leading engineering design firm to carry out comprehensive flood protection studies for two Highland coastal towns.   Thurso on the north coast and Golspie on the east coast have both suffered from flooding incidents over the years that has affected domestic and business properties and resulted in both towns being identified as Potentially Vulnerable Areas (PVAs) in the Highland and Argyll Local Flood Risk Management Plan.  
7/4/2017
165 Candidates To Contest 21 Council Multi-member Wards
The elections for the 74 seats on The Highland Council, being held on Thursday 4 May, will involve 165 candidates contesting all of the 21 multi-member wards.   Caithness will now only have two wards instead of three.  

[Printer Friendly Version]