Sports, Arts And Community Centres To Keep Rates Relief
28th November 2017
Leisure and cultural venues currently run by council arm's-length bodies will continue to benefit from charity relief from non-domestic rates.
Following lengthy consultation with stakeholders, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay today confirmed that the Scottish Government will not be accepting the recommendation of the Barclay Review to end this benefit.
It means that local authority arm's-length external organisations (ALEOs) currently providing important leisure and cultural facilities will continue to benefit from reduced rates to support their activities.
Mr Mackay also announced he will take steps to offset the charity relief benefit to councils from any new ALEO expansion in future.
The Cabinet Secretary said: "We are committed to an active and healthy Scotland with a vibrant cultural life and we will continue to support local authorities in providing affordable ways for their communities to take part in culture and leisure activities.
"In my response to the Barclay review I made clear that this was a recommendation that I wished to engage on before coming to a conclusion. In these discussions I have heard a strong and consistent message about the importance of this benefit to sports and leisure facilities and to keeping the costs of these services affordable especially in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.
“As a result I can confirm that the rates relief will remain in place for qualifying facilities operated by council ALEOs.
“However I am aware that some councils are planning to increase the numbers of ALEOs and the number of facilities no longer paying rates. It is my intention to mitigate against this by offsetting any further charity relief benefit to councils to deter future ALEO expansion."
The Highland Council and High Life Highland have warmly welcomed the decision announced today that the Scottish Government will not be accepting the recommendation of the Barclay Review to end the charity relief for arms-length bodies from non-domestic rates.
Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson said: “I wrote to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to express our concerns and so I am very pleased to hear that he has decided not to go down this road.
“ Like many other local authorities across Scotland, Highland Council established an Arm's Length Organisation High Life Highland (HLH) to operate its leisure and cultural services. Its charitable status allows it to generate income through a number of its services which is then reinvested back into the work of the charity to cross-subsidise other areas of the organisation which cannot or should not charge. These areas include mainstream library services or delivering support and working with disadvantaged young people in communities across the Highlands and contribute to national wellbeing strategies around healthy living, obesity and social isolation.
“The removal of NDR exemptions would have resulted in an additional bill of £1.8M a year and would have had a very severe impact on Highland services when taken against an already challenging financial backdrop of reducing funding."
High Life Highland Chief Executive Ian Murray added:“I am very pleased that the Scottish Government has decided not to accept the Barclay recommendations associated with organisations such as HLH. The charity already contributes to national initiatives such as preventative health, obesity and social isolation; we look forward to a positive working relationship with the Government on these and other important priorities.”
A Corporate Parenting Board is to be established which will have a duty of care for currently around 500 ‘Looked After' children and young people in Highland. Members of the Highland Community Planning Partnership’s, Community Planning Board have this week (21 March 2018) agreed to establish a Corporate Parenting Board the purpose of which will be to: • promote the corporate parenting role of statutory agencies and awareness of the duties towards care experienced young people in Highland.
The Highland Child Protection Committee has launched a Toolkit to assist individuals, volunteers and community groups working with children and young people understand their roles and responsibilities in relation to child protection. Over 60 people providing activities for children, young people and families in a paid and voluntary capacity came along to the launch event in Inverness yesterday.
Bill Alexander, Director of Care and Learning, has announced his intention to retire from The Highland Council. Bill commenced with the Council in 2000, in a joint post with NHS Highland as Head of Children's Services.
Beware of calls from scammers pretending to be the Telephone Preference Service warns Highland Council Trading Standards. Highland Council Trading Standards wish to warn consumers not to fall for a new telephone call scam in which fraudsters pretend to be calling from the Telephone Preference Service (or TPS).
Recent outcomes of Redesign work were noted by Members at yesterday's Highland Council meeting. In the first year of the programme, 8 redesign projects were undertaken using a "Lean" approach and 36 staff have been trained as facilitators.
Motorists are being advised that The Highland Council is currently preparing to carry out resurfacing works at the following locations: • B862 Fort Augustus - Whitebridge - Torness - Dores – Inverness Road; specifically at Errogie Village (North Gateway), Errogie Village (South Gateway), and Compass Farm; and • B851 Errogie – Strathnairn – Daviot Bridge – Culloden Moor Road; specifically at Aberarder House. Advanced works notification signage will be provided at various locations from Thursday 15 March 2018.
The Highland Council has agreed a capital programme of £482m over the next 5 years. The Highland Council serves the largest geographical area in Scotland (over 30%) and has just under £2bn of assets on its balance sheet comprising, amongst other things, 203 operational schools, over 6,700km of roads and over 2,000 properties.
The Highland Council's Enforcement Officers have stepped up patrols in Caithness in a move to tackle the problem of littering, fly tipping and dog fouling. A number of fixed penalty notices have been issued recently including an £80 fine for dog fouling in the Stafford Lane and Back Bridge area of Wick, a £200 fine for fly-tipping on Ackergill Street and another £80 fine for dog fouling in Lybster.
Speaking ahead of today's Council meeting to agree the Council's Capital Programme for 2018/19 to 2022/23, Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council said:- "This programme delivers significant investment in a range of key projects across the Highlands. We are investing in schools, roads, bridges, harbours and flood prevention schemes that will benefit our communities.
Highland Council is to make a special case for extra capital investment in the road infrastructure after a winter period which has seen the Highlands battered by some 57 days of severe weather. Highland Council area is particularly subject to severe winter weather, which has a significant impact on the roads and other infrastructure.
[Printer Friendly Version]