The Highland Council has agreed a budget for 2017-18
16th February 2017
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.
Overall, the budget gap of £20.344m has been met by increasing Council Tax income by £3.510m, increasing income by £2.841m and reducing expenditure by £12.819m. The Council also agreed to remove the planned reduction in funding to NHS Highland for adult care and fund this by £1.174 from Reserves.
Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson said: "This is a budget which seeks to retain jobs which are vital to communities across the Highlands, and to protect education, roads and winter maintenance, adult services and especially older people."
She added: "I would like to thank colleagues across the chamber for their engagement over this budget. We have a consensus which has been achieved through a significant amount of discussion and listening to what is important to communities. I also want to thank the Unions for their commitment to the process and to Officers for their hard work in helping to pull together the savings proposals and information required for decisions to be made."
Budget Leader, Cllr Bill Fernie said: “People have made it clear to us that their priorities are children, education, roads and adult care. It is also clear that most people are happy to pay a bit more council tax to prevent £3.5m further cuts to services, so I am pleased that this proposal was unanimously agreed.
“This has been a very difficult budget with having to bridge a gap of £20m between expenditure and funding. We have done our best to reduce the savings where we can to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities and safeguard employment.”
The savings agreed are set out in booklets A and B in the Council papers with two amendments.
The Council AGREED:-
a 3% increase in Council Tax for 2017/18 as per Paragraph 8.1;
the savings proposals from February 2016 as outlined in Paragraph 7.2 of the report;
the specific proposals for additional income and reduced expenditure as per the savings proposals outlined in Booklet A and detailed in Booklet B - subject to the following changes -
- an additional sum of £1.174m for the NHS Highland settlement to be sourced from balances;
- Community Services – to remove the £60k saving from Bulky Uplifts and increase the capacity of the Green Waste Collection by £60k;
- Development & Infrastructure – to add £279k from residual funds to mitigate the reduction to the Employability Funds on the basis that early clarity would be sought on the full employability spend and the additional ESF monies; and
- Care & Learning – to provide reassurance that there were no proposals to close partner centres whilst scoping exercises were being undertaken and any future proposals would go to Area Committees for discussion in due course;
the list of posts to be removed under the Employee Early Release Scheme as detailed in Paragraph 10.8 – on the basis that further information on the details of costs would be provided in due course;
to meet the cost of this Scheme from Reserves as detailed in Paragraph 10.9; and
to rebuild balances as detailed in Section 11.6 of the report.
The Highland Council has elected Councillor Margaret Davidson as Council Leader at its meeting today, 18 May 2017. Councillor Alasdair Christie was elected Depute Leader and Councillor Bill Lobban was elected Convener of the Council.
MFR Cash for Kids Charity Car Boot Sale is the latest recruit to be signed up by Highland Council Trading Standards to join the Real Deal scheme. The scheme was launched six years ago in a bid to stamp out the illegal trade in fake goods at markets and to ensure businesses are fully compliant with the relevant laws.
From 21 May 2017, people aged 60 and over who currently benefit from Highland Council’s rail concessionary travel scheme are being advised that half fare rail concessions for the majority of entitled Highland residents will cease. Free travel remains available by bus, and card holders are advised to keep their entitlement cards which can still be used on bus routes throughout Scotland.
Councillor Margaret Davidson announced today that an agreement had been reached to form anew administration to run Highland council for the next five years. Councillor Davidson will once again be the leader of the council and she said,"We are pleased to announce that a coalition of Independents, Liberal Democrats and Labour Councillors have formed an Administration to take Highland Council forward for the next five years.
The transformation of future learning in Highland schools was discussed by around 100 head teachers at a Science and Technology Conference last week in Inverness. Key speakers from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, the Wood Foundation, Education Scotland, FIRST Scandinavia and the Science and Skills Academy addressed the conference on the importance of STEM experiences and qualifications for young people in the Highlands.
The official process to elect Members of Parliament to represent the three UK Highland constituencies has begun. Returning Officer, Steve Barron, Chief Executive of The Highland Council, was yesterday (Thursday 4 May) hand delivered three writs, instructing him to conduct an election for the Highland UK Parliamentary constituencies.
The results for the 2017 Highland Council elections have been declared. They are as follows: Independent 28 Scottish Conservative and Unionist 10 Scottish Green Party 1 Scottish Labour Party 3 Scottish Liberal Democrats 10 Scottish National Party (SNP) 22 Total elected 74 The first meeting of the new Council will be held on Thursday 18 May when the office-bearers will be confirmed.
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.
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.
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.
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