COVID-19 school trip refunds - Corporate Resources Committee
12th August 2020
Members of today's postponed Corporate Resources Committee have supported recommendations contained in item 9 of today's report, regarding critical issues around COVID-19 school trip refunds.
Those members who would have been in attendance at today's meeting were contacted by the Chair of the Committee, Cllr Alister Mackinnon, due to the importance of a decision being made on this item.
Members noted the steps taken by Highland Council and its schools to manage the impact of school trip cancellations, and in turn minimise the costs. This will be done by seeking to reschedule trips or receive refunds or insurance pay outs where appropriate.
Crucially, Members supported the recommendation that the Council should take steps to refund parents in these situations, where no other source of refund is available, and to avoid any financial loss or hardship on parents as a result.
Part of the recommendations involve the use of the Council's financial hardship fund, as the source of funding any refunds.
Chair of the Corporate Resources Committee, Cllr Alister MacKinnon, said: "Following consultation with the Executive Chief Officer Resources and Finance and members of Corporate Resources Committee, I am pleased to say that, due to the exceptional circumstances, committee members have clearly stated their agreement with the recommendations ".
"Cancellation of school trips has already been a disappointment to many and it was important that despite today's postponement that we did everything within our power to deal with this very important issue. We are now able to ensure that parents/carers are reimbursed as soon as possible and that no family is left out of pocket as a result of the cancellation of their school trip."
The re-scheduled Corporate Resources Committee meeting will take place on Thursday 20 August 2020 at 1pm or following the conclusion of the Easter Ross Area Committee (whichever is the later).
Highland Councillors have commended the Council's ongoing efforts to reduce carbon consumption over the past year. Members have welcomed the information that the Council has saved over 6,000 tonnes of carbon this year.
Virtual education in Highland - Supportive, Interactive, Engaging. The Highland Council can support and deliver education to any pupils who are asked to self-isolate by the Health Protection Team, in all of our 203 schools across the region.
Young people at school are the winners as a result of discussions between High Life Highland and The Highland Council that will see the Charity's staff phased back into schools after the October break. Speaking about the arrangement, High Life Highland Chairman, Ian Ross said, "I am delighted that once again our partnership working arrangements with colleagues in The Highland Council mean that High Life Highland staff will be able to recommence their work with young people during the school day and within school buildings.
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.