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
Highland Council Members have agreed to support the efforts of Caithness Transport Forum and Wick JOG Airport Consultative Committee to improve flight connectivity at Wick John O' Groats airport. Members were informed at Highland Council's headquarters that both organisations are pressing to have investigation work carried out on the potential to have a Public Service Obligation (PSO) created on one of the flight routes.
Improvements to the management of facility lets in Highland Council properties (including schools) has been welcomed by Members of The Highland Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee. Committee Chair, Cllr Allan Henderson said: "I would like to thank staff for the large amount of work has been undertaken since October 2016 when the Council's Redesign Board recommended the transfer of management of school lets to the Development and Infrastructure Service.
Planning guidance approved by the Highland Council today (Thursday 16 August 2018) has updated the financial contributions that new developments will be required to make towards facilities including schools, roads and the provision of affordable housing. Members of the Highland Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee today agreed to adopt the Developer Contributions Supplementary Guidance (DCSG) after a public consultation was undertaken in early 2018.
A 5 year Parking Policy and Guidance for The Highland Council area has been approved by Members of the Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee. The policy, which is required by the local authority to underpin its enforcement of decriminalised parking will cover the period from 2018 - 2023.
Highland Council Members have agreed to support the efforts of Caithness Transport Forum and Wick JOG Airport Consultative Committee to improve flight connectivity at Wick John O' Groats airport. Members were informed at Highland Council's headquarters today (16 August 2018) that both organisations are pressing to have investigation work carried out on the potential to have a Public Service Obligation (PSO) created on one of the flight routes.
The Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee has today agreed the Longman Landfill site in Inverness as the preferred location to construct a new centralised waste management facility (Materials Recovery Facility) to recover recyclates and produce Refuse Derived Fuel, as the Council's preferred interim arrangements for meeting the requirements of the ban on landfilling which commences in January 2021. This facility will process all of the Highland’s 83,000 tonnes of residual (non-recyclable) waste from 2021 onwards.
The Winter Service Policy for The Highland Council this coming winter 2018/19 has been approved by Members of the Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee. The Council's policy relates to clearing and gritting of Highland Council adopted roads, cycle ways, footways and footpaths.
On Thursday 16th August 2018 councillors on the Environment, Development and Infrastructure committee will discuss the update from Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership which is reproduced below. 3.
The Environment, Development and Infrastructure committee of Highland Council will meet on Thursday 16th August 2018. Item 23 on the agenda is "Parking Services".
The Highland Council is delighted to be working with the University of Dundee and the University of the Highlands and Islands to support Highland-based people who are interested in a career move to gain both their PGDE and complete their induction year within 18 months. Following an earlier event in June, Highland Council and the University of Dundee and University of the Highlands and Islands are hosting a second information evening on Tuesday 14 August 2018 from 5:30pm - 7pm at the University of Highlands and Islands, Inverness College, Inverness Campus IV2 5NA.
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