Highland Leader Calls For Flat Cash Settlement
13th December 2016
Speaking after attending today's COSLA meeting, Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson said: "The Highland Council’s services, along with other Local Authorities’, have been cut to the bone after years of real terms reduction in funding from the Scottish Government. Since 2010/11 the Council has made savings of £135m, with £39m in this year alone.
“If we do not get a flat cash settlement, we are facing a potential £26 million hole in our budget which will result in the Council having to reduce or stop providing some services and functions. We have to assume a worst case scenario until the Scottish Government lays out its spending plans for next year on Thursday 15 December.
“We are looking at a range of proposals to make savings and increase income and the Administration will be continuing to work together across the chamber to seek consensus on the way forward in what is a dire financial situation.
“We are listening to people’s reactions to some of the draft budget proposals and nothing will be decided until February. However people need to get real! Cuts on this scale can simply not be made without significant reductions to some services."
She added: “The Administration of the Council will put the following motion to Council on Thursday 15 December.
“The Highland Council notes the UK Government’s Autumn Statement published on 23 November 2016 which shows a small increase in the overall resources coming to Scotland, both in cash and real terms.
“In view of this, the Highland Council urges the Scottish Government not to impose further damaging cuts to local government funding but provide a cash flat settlement which will help the Council to avoid making significant and painful cuts to front line public services that deliver important lifeline services to our communities in the Highland."
Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson has moved to reassure communities about forthcoming budget decisions. She said: "No decisions will be made until the Council meets on 15 February.
At Highland Council work has been ongoing for some months to prepare a Revenue and Capital Budget for 2018/19 and beyond, with the anticipation of a significant cut to available funds. The Scottish Government's proposed grant settlement was announced on 14 December 2017.
Around £3 million of funding has been agreed for a ground-breaking Highland project that could transform the lives of people with complex health needs as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal. The business case for the ‘FitHome' assisted living project was approved in November last year with £3m funding from the Scottish Government.
An article in the Press and Journal today 9th January 2018 highlights the cuts in staffing levels across Scottish councils with Highland being one of the highest. In 2009 Highland had 9953 Full-time Equivalent Staff and in 2017 it had dropped by 21% to 7838.
Highland Council Trading Standards team has recently seen an increase in scams targeting Highland businesses. The most common scams reported by businesses relate to marketing and publishing but other frauds such as those involving demands for payment for unsolicited goods sent to businesses (such as ink cartridges which were never ordered) are also on the rise.
Cognitive improvements to be included in Blue Badge scheme The disabled person's parking badge pilot, which was launched in April 2016, has been made permanent by the Scottish Government. The eligibility criteria were revised and extended under a pilot to allow carers and relatives of people who pose a risk to themselves or others in traffic to apply for a disabled person's parking badge, provided they meet the criteria.
People looking to pick up a New Year bargain in the sales on the internet, by mail order or on the high street are being encouraged by The Highland Council's Trading Standards team to be aware of their consumer rights and to stay safe online from scams and fake websites that try to dupe inexperienced online shoppers trying to buy a bargain. Consumers have extra protection when they shop online.
The British Hospitality Association secured a major victory today (21 December2017) as the Scottish Government confirmed that any plans for a ‘tourist tax' in Edinburgh - or any other Scottish cities - are firmly off the table. The BHA has been campaigning consistently for over six years against the implementation of any such additional and uncompetitive tax and is delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised our reservations.
Chief Executive of The Highland Council, Steve Barron said: "The Council is continuing to do all it can to support employees who lost their jobs following the change in contract for the processing of recycled waste. Evanton-based William Munro Construction laid off the staff after Highland Council transferred a recycling contract.
The Highland Council has successfully prosecuted a food business after discovering unsafe hygiene practices in the transportation of food. An investigation by officers of the Council's Environmental Health Team discovered that N E Meats Ltd of Newcastle had been transporting and delivering foods from the North of England to the Highlands without any temperature control measures.
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