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.