Local Government in Scotland - Performance and Challenges 2018
5th April 2018
Finding savings is now "increasingly critical" for councils dealing with ongoing reductions in funding, says the Accounts Commission.
Councils are balancing a real terms funding cut of 9.6 per cent over the last eight years with increasing demand, particularly from a growing older population.
And the local authority watchdog says that councils need to clearly set out the impact budget reductions are having so they can plan for the future.
The annual report looking at the challenges facing councils and how they are performing found that:
Some councils have maintained or improved their performance in a number of areas despite budget reductions. For example, councils are spending less on secondary schools but pupils from all backgrounds are performing better;
Other evidence suggests that budget cuts are having a negative impact, with public satisfaction falling in areas such as refuse collection, street cleaning and libraries;
Adult social care services are not keeping up with demand, with older people facing long waits for an assessment of their needs and a further wait to receive their care package;
Some services have borne the brunt of funding reductions. For example, planning department staff numbers have been cut by over 20 per cent in the last decade, and environmental staff by eight per cent between 2016 and 2017.
Under the current funding formula, some councils face receiving less cash from government as their total population falls but the number of old people - and associated demand for services - increases.
Without service redesign or policy changes councils could be spending nearly 80 per cent of their budgets on education and social work alone by 2025/26.
Graham Sharp, chair of the Accounts Commission, said:"Councils are facing the major challenge of reducing costs, maintaining services for an ageing population and putting significant policy and legislative change into practice - all at a time of increasing uncertainty.
"They have done a lot to manage the impact of budget reductions, but with forecast funding gaps higher than current levels of reserves for some councils the delivery of savings is now increasingly critical.
"Decisive leadership, innovative thinking around service delivery, and robust planning based on community engagement is now more important than ever to ensure council services stay sustainable."
Read the full report at
Works are to begin on an additional £1.5M worth of repair schemes on Highland Council roads this summer. Cllr Alister Mackinnon, Highland Council's Budget Leader said: "At the Council's meeting in March, Members agreed a revised 5 year Capital Plan and agreed to prioritise roads maintenance if there was any underspend in the Council's capital programme for 2018/19.
Highland Council is issuing a reminder to owners of private water supplies and landlords of tenants on private water supplies that it is their responsibility to arrange for the provision of water to their properties. As a result of the prolonged recent dry weather Highland Council's, Environmental Health Team is receiving a few calls from individuals on private water supplies that are drying up.
The Highland Licensing Board has begun consultation on its next Statement of Licensing Policy for the period November 2018 to November 2023. The aim of the Policy Statement is to promote consistency in decision-making on all types of liquor licence applications and to give applicants advance notice of the Board's likely approach to determining licence applications.
The Highland Council is pleased to announce the recent appointment of 5 Head and 10 Acting Head Teachers across the region's schools. All the new teachers will be in their posts by the new term in August 2018.
The Highland Council has approved the recruitment process for a new Chief Executive to replace Steve Barron when he retires in the autumn. Applicants are invited to apply for this important top position to lead one of the largest local authorities in Europe, by the 31 July.
The Highland Council has agreed to plan for a multi-year budget for the next 3 financial years (2019-22) to meet the challenge of a potential funding gap of up to £124.9 million. Over the period 2013/14 to 2018/19 the Highland Council has already had to approve budget savings of £102.1 million as well as agree Council tax rises of 3% in each of the last two years in order to deliver a balanced budget.
The Highland Council has been awarded two commendations and a first place at the 2018 Scottish Regional Energy Efficiency Awards (external link) for the Highland Home Energy Efficiency Programme. These awards recognise the efforts made to eliminate fuel poverty and improve the energy efficiency of homes in the UK.
The purchase of a significant site on the southern side of Inverness' Bridge Street was completed on Thursday 28 June 2018, it is confirmed by The Highland Council. As announced at the start of June by Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of The Highland Council, and Mr Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, the purchase will support the development of Inverness Castle and the regeneration of the surrounding area of the city centre.
PROGRESS of City-Region Deal projects has been reported to The Highland Council at its meeting today, 28 June 2018. The city-region deal is made up of ten discrete projects, each led by one of the partners.
Council has considered and agreed recommendations from a review of car parking by the Redesign Board. A peer review of car parking was requested by the Redesign Board, with the scope of the review agreed in November 2017.
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