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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

 

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