Highland Council Budget Leader warns of even tougher decisions to come
24th May 2018
Speaking at Highland Council's Corporate Resources Committee today (24 May 2018), Budget Leader Cllr Alister Mackinnon said that the Council's reported overspend showed the extent to which successive budget reductions and council tax freezes meant the authority had no wriggle room to manage significant pressures in demand-led services like supporting children with additional support needs. He said:"We have done everything we can to protect front line services and particularly services to children and young people. That is why our focus has been on finding ways to increase income, such as car parking, or ways to reduce expenditure in areas where we have no statutory responsibility.
"I know not everyone supports these measures, but today's report should leave no one in any doubt that we have to deliver these commitments and also look for additional ways in which we can meet current and future budget challenges.
"Personally, I see no prospect of the budget situation improving and I fear there are even tougher decisions ahead of us and we all have to acknowledge that."
The Council's Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Corporate Resources, Derek Yule said that "...it was very rare for the Council to return an overspend." He said that the Council's elected members should see this as a "wake up call and recognise the need to make tough decisions about where to cut services... and to stick by those decisions."
The financial report from the council meeting can be seen at -
This report provides a summary of the near final revenue budget spend for financial year 2017/18. The position is described ‘near final’ pending the completion of the year-end accounts and audit process.
Net spend on services for the year totalled £550.619m against a budget of £549.093m. This represents a net overspend on services of £1.526m, a significant improvement from the forecast position reported at quarter 3.
Due to decisions taken in the year and other legislative requirements the Council transferred £5.022m into its earmarked balances and other specific reserves during the year. These transfers were £0.354m above the budgeted level.
On the funding side the Council received government funding and Council Tax £0.837m in excess of budget, with income of £552.839m against a budget of £552.002m.
Overall the difference between total expenditure of £555.641m and total income of £552.839m was £2.802m. That sum reflects the amount of excess expenditure which requires to be funded from the Council’s non-earmarked general fund reserve. Of this £1.759m was planned with the balance of £1.043m being the unplanned deficit recorded at year end.
Over the course of the year the Council’s general fund non-earmarked balance has reduced from £11.363m to £8.561m. The year-end balance represents 1.56% of the annual revenue budget.
Debate on webcast at
After listening to feedback from communities across the Highlands, Highland Council's Administration have decided to take more time to rationalise toilet provision in the Highlands. Budget Leader and Chair of Corporate Resources Cllr Alister MacKinnon and Cllr Allan Henderson, Chair of Environment, Development and Infrastructure report: "In view of serious community proposals coming forward and being assessed, by groups such as North Coast 500 and others across the Highlands, through the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, it is prudent to allow extra time for the review.
The results of a recent car parking review requested by The Highland Council's Redesign Board have created a vision for car parking and a shift towards localism in the region. Members of the Redesign Board have agreed a common ground on recommendations for a new car parking policy and improvements to car parking processes in the local authority area.
FORT WILLIAM now has access to free WiFi in and around the centre of the town thanks to a project led by the Highland Council and funded by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal. The free WiFi, called "High-Fi", is aimed at stimulating economic growth and will increase digital inclusion across the Highlands.
The Highland Council, in partnership with Enterprise Car Club an E-Car Club, have recently launched car clubs at multiple Council offices throughout the region. The scheme's newest location, Fort William, is being launched on 4th June 2018 and will form part of a 6-month pilot.
The work of Highland Council's Care and Learning Service to provide sustainable quality education in Highland communities was further endorsed today by members of the Council’s Care, Learning and Housing Committee. Members gave their approval to the reframing of the previous "Management in Schools Programme" to an updated and revised “Sustainable Education in Highlands” programme.
The trial expansion of early learning and childcare in 6 centres in Highland was welcomed by Members of Highland Council's Care, Learning and Housing Committee today (30 May 2018). The aim of the expansion is to provide high quality, flexible early learning and childcare that is accessible and affordable for families.
The public is being asked for its views on proposals by The Highland Council to review the maximum level of charges for the hire of taxis or private hire cars fitted with taxi meters operating under licence of The Highland Council. The Council has a statutory duty in terms of Section 17 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 to review its scales for the fares and other taxi related charges every 18 months.
A report published today by the local authority spending watchdog looks at how councils are using the estimated 130 ALEOs (arms-length external organisations) in Scotland, which have an annual spend of more than £1.3 billion, and the impact they are making. ALEOs can take many forms - such as companies, community organisations or charities.
Members of The Highland Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee have given their backing to new shop front guidance aimed at ensuring high quality designs for traditional, replacement and new shopfronts throughout the Highlands. The Guidance sets out general principles for repair, reinstatement and replacement of shopfronts, as well as general principles for new shopfronts in new development.
Councillor Matthew Reiss, who represents the Thurso and Northwest Caithness Ward, has been elected as Chairman of The Highland Council's Caithness Committee. He takes over from Councillor Donnie Mackay who has held the role since June 2017.
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