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
The Highland Council is raising awareness of the opportunity to help shape future growth and development across the Inner Moray Firth area, and is encouraging anyone living, working, investing and being educated in the area to get involved. The Council has announced its intention to review the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan.
A report that aims to demonstrate the continuing commitments of Highland Council, it's Education Authority and Highland Licensing Board, to advance and mainstream equality into day-to-day work was approved today by Councillors on the Care, Learning and Housing Committee. Local Authorities, Education Authorities and Licensing Boards are required by legislation to publish a report every 2 years on how they mainstream equality into their work.
The Highland Council is today (12 March 2019) launching a 12 week consultation giving the community until 5 June 2019 to comment on the proposed contents of the Common Good Fund Asset Register. Section 102 Community Empowerment (Scotland) 2015 states that before establishing a Common Good Asset Register the Council must first conduct a public consultation on a list of property (buildings, land, artwork, regalia and funds) it is proposing to include.
People living in The Highland Council area can now find out how to foster and adopt in the comfort of their own homes. Alison Gordon, Highland Council's Fostering and Adoption Resource Manager explained: "We have created this website to try to make it easier for anyone living in the Highlands who is considering fostering or adoption and we have tried to make the process of applying easier.
Council has agreed 22 strategic improvement priorities and a Highland Improving Performance Programme for the Council which aims to make the connections across services and communities and drive the improvement. The proposed strategic improvement priorities are identified from the Council's knowledge of where performance needs to improve and where the Council has already set ambition for improvement.
The Council's Programme "Local Voices: Highland Choices" was approved at today's Council meeting 7th March 2019, along with a Corporate Plan which provides the measures and actions required to deliver and monitor the Programme. The Corporate Plan also underpins the priorities set out in the Council's budget strategy and change programme "A Sustainable Highland" which was approved by Council in February 2019.
Overall the Council's key performance indicators (KPIs) for 2017-18 are performing well with 81% (22) either improving or being maintained. The principles that underpin the Council's values include that the Council will be fair, open and accountable.
Paper discussed at Highland council today 7 March 2018. The debate will be available for viewing later at https://highland.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/374561 HIGHLAND COUNCIL Date: 7th March 2019 Report Title: Council preparations for EU exit Report By: The Chief Executive 1.
The motion was proposed at Highland council today 7th March 2019. It was emotively opposed by Caithness councillors.
Motion to Highland council from the leader of the council Margaret Davidson on 7th March 2019 "The Council expresses concern over the proposals set out in the UK Government's White Paper on immigration, particularly that there will be no regional variation and that the salary threshold for skilled workers will remain at £30,000. This will have a significant detrimental impact on the Highlands.
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