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Make No Mistake Highland Council Are Going to Make Significant Cuts For Next Two Years At Least

23rd February 2024

Over £100m investment programme proposed as part of 3-year budget
Highland council are about to use significant amounts of reserves to cover shortfalls in the budget for 24/25 and possibly 25/26. Despite pushing out big figures it disguises the cuts about to fall on Highland services.

Over £100m of investment will be possible if budget proposals are agreed at Highland Council's budget setting meeting on 29 February.

Budget saving proposals of £54m are underpinned by the need to invest in change to deliver recurring and sustainable cost reduction, income generation, redesign and efficiency savings.

£32.3m of Reserves is proposed to support and invest in change and redesign, which includes £20m to support Adult Social Care, to deliver cost improvements and redesign, thus supporting the achievement of a multi-year £12.6m saving target against that budget.

£1.2m has also been set aside from Reserves to drive build community capacity in the third sector and community groups in order to support training, mentoring and specialist support in areas such as health and social care.

Up to £60m of capital can be released with an additional £1m per annum of investment in loan charge budgets over 3 years. This would significantly boost the Council's opportunity to invest in important capital projects such as roads and infrastructure.

£6m has been proposed for property maintenance with £2m per annum funding over 3 years, met from Reserves. The Council has over 3000 assets and much of the school estate and depots are in urgent need of repairs. This funding would go some way towards the more urgent needs.

An additional £37m has been earmarked to meet inflationary and other cost pressures.

Convener Bill Lobban said: "Investment is fundamental to supporting the necessary transformation in order to redesign our services and maximise our income generation and release longer term savings. Funding change over a 3 year period allows substantial changes to take place and be sustainable."

Leader of the Council Raymond Bremner added: "We have recently had to make difficult decisions on our capital programme due to the difficult financial context we find ourselves in. An additional £60m, while not an answer to everything, would go some way towards us being able to invest in important capital projects, while not putting undue pressure on our Reserves."

The budget paper sets out the Reserves position for consideration by Members on 29 February.

 

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