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
On 22nd January 2019 the Moray West wind Farm planning application returns to the North Planning committee but merely fro 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 and 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.
THROUGHOUT the month of November, The Highland Council's Chief Executive and members of the budget team have met with staff, groups and communities across the length and breadth of the Highlands. These sessions were part of a budget engagement exercise which also included facebook chats, survey, leaflet, video, and a budget challenge to raise awareness of budget challenges and gather views and priorities.
The Highland Council is to carry out a public consultation on the implementation of a transient visitor levy in the New Year. During the Council's public engagement activity during November, a strong theme was support for raising income from tourism, including a tourist levy, which could support local infrastructure, as well as the tourism sector itself.
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