Schools Budgets To Be Protected In Highland Budget Proposals
14th February 2017
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. School budgets, which fund teachers and school support services, have been protected by the Council Administration, and there are no proposals to make savings in these areas.
Having met the Scottish Government's teacher numbers target in 2016, Highland Council remains committed to maintaining teacher ratios in Primary and Secondary Schools. The Council has also developed a programme to enhance the support to Headteachers and to sustain rural education, which will ensure that all schools can be more effective, as well as more cost effective in future years.
In addition, while Additional Support Needs (ASN) budgets have been reduced by Councils across much of the country, Highland Council's Administration intends another successive year where there will be no cuts to ASN in this authority.
Councillor Drew Millar, Chair of the Education, Children & Adult Services Committee said: "This Administration has pledged to protect education, and I am delighted that we are delivering on this pledge. We will maintain funding for teachers and ASN services.
"This has not been easy, given that Education and Additional Support Needs make up over a third of the total spend of the Council. However, elected members understand how important these services are to our children and to our communities. By investing in education, we are investing in our young people and in the future of the Highlands. We have therefore been determined to protect these services.
"I am also especially pleased that we have committed to withdrawing one budget measure agreed by Council in December 2014. Instead of the planned 10p increase in school meal prices for 2017/18, we are proposing a price freeze this year. We are proud of the quality of our school meals, and we want to encourage full take up, and we believe that this decision needs to be reversed."
Cllr Bill Fernie, The council budget leader said "As both Chairman of Resources committee and as a former chairman covering Education I have tried in these very difficult times with cuts to our core budget to protect this important aspect of our spending plans. The Independent group who make up the present Administration of the council were in no doubt about our priorities and children were one of them. Children, Adult Service and Roads were our top three when we took over and we have tried hard to maintain that position even in the face of significant cuts in our funding from Scottish Goverment.
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.
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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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