Highland Council Budget Engagement To Commence
25th October 2018
The Highland Council has agreed to commence a public budget engagement process beginning on 1 November 2018.
The Council is planning for a potential budget gap of £66.7 million over the next three years.
Over the period 2013/14 to 2018/19 the Highland Council has already had to implement budget savings of £102.1 million and council tax rises of 3% in each of the last two years in order to deliver a balanced budget.
Budget Leader, Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: "It is imperative to take action now to protect our Reserves from reducing any further. We expect our budget to decrease further in the next 3 years. We also have to do more with less money, and our costs are rising for things like fuel, pay and costs of living.
"We are working with services to produce comprehensive information on our current spending profiles, to identify where there are opportunities for efficiencies and any commercial opportunities. Our focus will be on directing our resources to those areas which will give us the best outcomes and deliver value for money."
Councillor Matthew Reiss, Depute Budget Leader said:"It will not be easy to find more savings on top of those we have already made. Income generation, commercialisation and efficiencies become even more vital in this context in order to protect essential services and we do not have the luxury of the significant reserves we once had to give us any room for manoeuvre.
"It is undoubtedly the case that there will be very hard decisions to make and we will begin a process of engagement next week with staff, trade unions, members across the chamber and with the public, to help us make the right decisions and do the best we can for the people of the Highlands.
"We intend to launch our Budget Engagement process on 1 November and this will involve a range of engagement activities stretching the length and breadth of Highland.
"We want to develop a shared sense of vision and purpose with our communities and our staff, who are central to the success of the council. This is an important opportunity to listen to what is important to people, to reshape our priorities and to focus our resources on improving lives and opportunities here in the Highlands.
"I strongly encourage everyone to get involved in this and make your voices heard. This is Your Council and Your future."
The UK Government will announce its Autumn Statement on 29th October which is about a month earlier than the last two years. The Scottish Government has also confirmed that its own budget announcement will be 12th December, with individual Councils' grant announcements being made the following week (week commencing 17th December).
The council discussed a budget up date on the way forward today -
Towards a Sustainable Financial Future - Revenue Budget Update 2018-2022. See it at Item 15 -https://www.highland.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/4035/highland_council
At his last official function The Highland Council's retiring CEX Steve Barron has paid tribute to two members of staff for their outstanding work. During The Highland Council's Quality Awards event, held last Thursday in Inverness Town House, he took the opportunity to present a special commendation award to the Council's Project Co-ordinator for War Memorials Alf Leslie.
UNISON will start to take steps towards strike action. The local government joint trade unions - who have also run consultative ballots of their members - will be meet with CoSLA to inform them of the results of their ballots, tomorrow Friday 9th November.
A Cook at Broadford Primary School on the Isle of Skye has scooped the Highland Council's Employee of the Year 2018 Award for her commitment to promote healthy eating and for inspiring pupils to get involved from "plot to plate" Annette Burfooot, who has been at the school for 11 years, is described as a skilled and dedicated member of staff who is passionate about promoting healthy eating and regularly goes into classrooms to chat to the children about nutrition and developing healthy eating habits. She also encourages them to proactively get involved in the planning of menus for school meals making the most of fresh herbs and vegetables grown in the school garden.
Highland Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to develop a holistic strategy and action plan to reduce the consumption of single use plastics from its sites and schools, and the wider community. The strategy and action plan was approved at a meeting of the Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee today (8 November 2018).
The Council remains on track to provide much-needed affordable homes. Members of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee today (Thursday 8 November 2018) have approved the Council's Strategic Housing Investment Plan for 2019-2024 that will see a minimum of 500 units being built each year of which 70% will be for affordable rent and 30% for low cost home ownership.
The Highland Council has announced the publication of updated guidance on financial contributions required from new developments towards new infrastructure and services. The Developer Contributions Supplementary Guidance now forms part of the Council's Development Plan which is used to determine planning applications in Highland.
Thousands of illicit cigarettes have been uncovered by Highland Council's Trading Standards Officers with a little help from two specially-trained, four-legged detectives. Spaniels Dixie and Daisy from Consumer Protection Dogs were enlisted by the region's Trading Standards team to detect the smell of tobacco.
Nine candidates are standing for election to fill a vacancy for the Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Ward of The Highland Council. The by-election is being held following the resignation of Kate Stephen who was one of four Councillors representing Ward 5.
WICK and Thurso now have access to free WiFi in and around the centre of their towns 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 is ready for winter and prepared to grit council roads as the council's winter maintenance programme started on 14 October 2018. Trunk roads in Highland are the responsibility of Transport Scotland and their operators Bear Scotland.
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