Highland Council Budget Details Showing A Huge Covid 19 Deficit Submitted To Cosla
8th May 2020
The Highland Council has, along with other Scottish Local Authorities, submitted details to COSLA of the potential impact of COVID 19 on its revenue and capital budgets.
The Council has estimated potential income losses and additional costs up to £87.5 M which would be off-set in part by savings across a variety of service areas. This would result in an estimated net impact on the Council's budgets in excess of £80M due to COVID-19.
The local authority estimates that £25.5 M of income from fees and charges, such as car parking fees and planning fees, could be lost over the financial year; Council tax income may be £5M less than budgeted; and loss of recharge income linked to the Council's capital plan and other services could amount to £13M.
The Council estimates that costs of the response to COVID-19, such as running Community Hubs, providing food to vulnerable groups and childcare to key workers, may cost £5M over a 6 month period; and that increased service demands on welfare and social care may amount to £7M.
Additional Service costs including the Council’s waste, housing, supply teachers and staffing are estimated in the order of £9M; and contractual costs linked to delays in the delivery of the Council’s capital programme may also cost £9M. The impact on key service level agreements could total £6M.
Importantly, added to this, the Council will face significant challenges in delivering previously approved budget savings of £8M.
The Council’s budget will be the focus of a meeting of the Council in June; and Council officers are in ongoing discussions with COSLA about support from the Scottish Government.
Budget Leader, Cllr Alister Mackinnon said: "Officers are continuing to assess the impact that the pandemic is having on the council’s financial position, while managing the response to the emergency and the risks presented to the Budget.
"What is unfolding is a very complex picture with many unknowns that are affecting the Council’s financial position as its responds to COVID-19. Looking ahead, once the Scottish Government’s full package of financial support to local authorities is known, we will need to reassess our financial position and implement a plan for recovery."
The Highland Council is calling on the UK Government to help resolve the inequity of fuel poverty experienced in the Highlands of Scotland where people pay more for fuel and energy than other regions in the UK. Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson has written to the UK Government's Minister of State (Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth) The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP calling on the government to replace the current electricity distribution system with one that replicates that of gas and telecoms and share the cost of energy distribution equally across the UK.
To mark Scotland's Climate Week for 2020, which runs from today until the 20th September, The Highland Council has organised a range of virtual events to share information and seek views from Highland residents and Council employees on climate related topics. Whilst the circumstances for Climate Week 2020 are very different to previous years, it still provides an important opportunity for organisations and communities to celebrate and showcase what they are doing to tackle climate change.
Highland residents are being warned that letters claiming they have won a share of £425,000 in a ‘postcode lottery' is a scam. The letters appear to be targeting the Skye area but are likely to be sent to various addresses across the Highland area.
Fiona Malcolm, has been appointed by The Highland Council as Interim Executive Chief Officer with immediate effect for Health and Social Care, pending recruitment of the permanent ECO post which is currently taking place. A qualified solicitor, Fiona has worked within the legislative and policy frameworks in place for both children's care and adult social care since joining The Highland Council in 2001.
Communities in The Highland Council area are to benefit from Crown Estates funding to be disbursed by the local authority. Councillors have agreed a funding distribution model to enable the disbursement of over £3million Crown Estates funds across the region.
Council today agreed an urgent motion by Cllrs Margaret Davidson, Andrew Jarvie, Alasdair Christie and Jimmy Gray with a call for more detailed local information sharing on Covid-19 for members in local government. The motion is as follows: "Throughout the pandemic we have received information on national and Highland wide numbers infected with Covid 19.
At the meeting on 9 September 2020 of the Council's Housing and Property Committee, Officers confirmed that house building targets will be met despite lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Chair of the committee, Cllr Ben Thompson, said: "I am delighted that we are able to continue to meet our targets for the Council house building programme.
Highland Council members will debate rejecting electoral arrangement proposals put forward by the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland at a meeting of The Highland Council later this week. The Boundary Commission wrote to the Council's Chief Executive earlier this year with proposals for new electoral boundaries from 2022.
Highland Housing partners are asking their tenants to have their say on proposed changes to the mutual exchange policy. Mutual Exchanges help tenants to move by swapping their homes with other tenants.
COSLA has today (Monday 7th September 2020) launched a new Blueprint for Scottish Local Government. The Blueprint will allow Local Government to build around an ambitious vision for Scotland's future - one based on the empowerment of people and communities.