Response to Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme Consultation
7th September 2018
Members have discussed the consultation and proposed response to a review of the structure of the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme.
The Highland Council Pension Fund is one of eleven constituent funds of the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme.
Highland Council holds a dual role in pension fund matters as it is an ‘administering authority', but also an employer member of the scheme. It was agreed that The Highland Council, as a participating employer, will also provide a separate response.
Members recognised the enviable position of the Fund and expressed a strong desire to retain control of the Fund in the Highlands. Pension Committee Members were willing to consider some cooperation with the other Scottish funds around investment and administration, only if it was demonstrated to be of benefit.
Chair of the Council's Pensions Committee, Councillor Richard Gale said: "The Highland Council Pension Fund is a success story and is fully funded through years of prudent investment. It is important that we look at a global mix of investment opportunities and while we don't rule out investing in Scottish infrastructure, it must be in the interest of our members and generate a return that justifies the investment.
"We cannot allow for us to lose control of our pension fund and two of the options, in particular, would see that control being taken by a centralised body leaving us with little or no influence. It would be a very attractive windfall for the Scottish Government to take over our pension fund, but the risk of failure would leave thousands of people in the Highlands and Western Isles to pick up the cost of that failure. That could be of serious detriment to the individual wellbeing of pension recipients and impact the overall economy of the Highlands."
See more details about the review at -
The Highland Council has invited people in Thurso to attend a public exhibition highlighting proposals for flood prevention measures along the River Thurso. The Council is currently developing a Flood Protection Study (FPS) for the River to identify solutions that will alleviate the risk of flooding.
Following a Highland Council Trading Standards investigation, Wick Sheriff Court has imposed a court order on a 42 year old local woman who was found to be selling counterfeit goods. The Order places stringent restrictions on her future conduct and any breach of it can lead to a hefty fine or imprisonment.
On 22nd January 2019 the Moray West wind Farm planning application returns to the North Planning committee but merely for some slight changes to the location of some turbines to lessen the impact on certain views. The original permission and this one is not within the power of the committee but they have the ability to enter an objection.
Police in Lochaber can confirm that a 27-year-old man has been arrested in connection with alleged consumer protection offences in Fort William. It follows an investigation by Police Scotland and Highland Council Trading Standards, after a report was received this week of "bogus workmen" in Fort William and alleged fraudulent activity relating to charges for work carried out on a house in the town.
DETAILED analysis of the Scottish Government's funding settlement, which makes up the vast proportion of the Council's budget, has been carried out and the net result is that the Highland Council will see a reduction in its grant funding to provide the current level of services. This, together with the additional pressures equates to a £31.2M budget gap for 2019-20.
Highland Council Trading Standards have produced guidance on how to spot the signs of scams that target businesses and also remind businesses to inform their employees on what to look out for when dealing with unsolicited telephone calls, emails and texts. All businesses as well as non-profit organisations (such as charitable organisations) may spend a lot of time dealing with potential scammers.
The Highland Council has written to parents and carers of school transport pupils to inform them that D&E Coaches have recently transferred a number of Highland Council contracts to Stagecoach and some school transport routes are included. These changes are to take effect from the first day back after the school holidays, Monday 7th January 2019 and timetables have been supplied for the routes affected.
Twenty nine members of The Highland Council's Care and Learning team have celebrated their success in completing the Council's 15 month ‘Lead On’ programme. ‘Lead On’, is a programme designed to develop practitioners’ understanding of change leadership and apply this through a change initiative in their place of work.
Highland Councillors are looking forward beyond the current Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal and asking: "What next and where?". Following publication of the Deal's annual report, Leader of The Highland Council Cllr Margaret Davidson said: "A meeting will be convened in the New Year with Councillors who have a particular interest in the City-Region Deal to talk about where we can go next and what we can do.".
Work underway to determine Highland's Budget allocation. Commenting after the news received last night of Councils' individual allocations, from the Scottish Government’s draft Budget, Budget Leader Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: "Having received the details of our allocation just last night, it will take some time to work through the proposed settlement and do a detailed analysis.
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