Your Voice, Your Council, Your Future - engagement continues with Highland Council
29th November 2018
Last week's Resources Committee noted the positive movement in the Council's revenue budget from a projected year end overspend in quarter one of £5m down to £2.2 in quarter two. This has been assisted by concerted effort across services and enhanced control of vacancies and all expenditure.
The Highland Council's month of public engagement activity is well underway with public and staff engagements across the Highlands.
Hundreds of people have watched the budget video, and have completed an online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/YourvoiceYourCouncil and have attempted the Budget Challenge, an online budget simulator, to see for themselves how they would make choices to balance the budget.
Members of the budget team and the Chief Executive have been meeting staff, groups and communities across the Highlands during November.
Budget Leader, Councillor Alister Mackinnon thanks those for taking part so far and calls for everyone to get involved and make their views known. He said: "It is vital that we understand what is important to communities to help us make the right decisions as we plan ahead for the next three years.
"We are working with staff to identify all opportunities for efficiencies. Income generation is also a fundamental part of our strategy to protect essential services. Our focus will be on directing our reducing resources to those areas which will deliver the best outcomes and provide value for money. This is Your Council and Your future."
Chief Executive Donna Manson said: "The progress on our budget position is very positive, however there is a considerable amount of work still required, and the Council faces a number of risks in the coming months from pay awards, winter conditions, and out of authority placements. The Council’s Executive Leadership Team remains committed to further reduce the forecast overspend to ensure a balanced budget is delivered by year end and no draw down from reserves is required."
She added: “I have enjoyed being out meeting communities and staff across the Highlands and look forward to meeting many more of you in the coming days and weeks. Your feedback is essential to the future shape and sustainability of Highland Council, so please continue to engage with us as we are listening and value your ideas."
The Council also held facebook chats on income generation and education which received many responses and some very positive suggestions.
You can get more information and find out how to complete the survey or take the budget challenge at: www.highland.gov.uk/yourvoice
Themes emerging from the engagement activity will be reported to Council in December 2018.
Donna Manson the new Chief Executive of Highland Council who replaced Steve Barron recently.
Anyone thinking of a career change and becoming a Primary or Secondary school teacher is being invited by The Highland Council to an information session to find out how they might become one of the next generation of teachers in Highland. The information event takes place on Saturday 9th March 2019, at Doorways, Central Primary School, Kenneth Street, Inverness, IV3 5DW from 11am - 1pm.
Investment of an additional £1.5m for roads maintenance was approved as a priority area for the Council's revenue budget. The additional money will help to boost the annual budget for pothole repairs, clearing culverts, and bridge maintenance.
Tighter controls on what can be taken to the public recycling centres are set to save £300,000 over the next two financial years. This proposal introduces restrictions on construction and demolition waste brought to our Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC), limiting quantities to small amounts generated through minor DIY activities.
The main activities that the social enterprise groups currently carry out directly for Highland Council waste management are the servicing of re-use containers on our household waste recycling centres (HWRCs). These currently divert around 150 tonnes from 11 HWRCs.
Newstart Highland that took over Home Aid in Caithness is set to lose a £75,000 grant from 2019/20. The Highland council agreed the reduction at its budget meeting on 14th February 2019.
Planning and building warrant income is to be increased over 3 years as part of the Highland council 3 year budget plan. 2019/20 - £600,000 2020/21 - £328,000 2021/22 - £182,000 Total - £110,000,000 The current income target for planning and building control fees is £4.867m.
Savings of £610,000 are being asked from Highland Highlife in addition to inflationary pressures of £900,000 to be absorbed by the organisation. The arms length organisation has proved to be an outstanding success in the few years since it was floated by the council.
Highland councillors reluctantly agreed to range of increase charges under the community services part of the budget. Many of the charges reflect inflationary increases The total of £2.063 million will be rolled out as follows - 2019/20 - £771,000 2020/21 - £.636,000 2021/22 - £656,000 The split is as follows - Export licences for fish were included in the above figures but a change was agreed at the meeting that should make the saving in total.
Additional Income projected £216k of is projected for thenext three years - 2019/20 - £118,000 2020/21 - £58,000 2021/22 - £40,000 Through a proactive approach to lease extensions (with premiums) and increases in rental income the council will seek to maximise the performance of the industrial and investment portfolio, including selling off poor performing industrial sites and focusing investment on high performing, high rental sites and properties. Net income £2.776m - excludes income for the Housing Revenue Account and Inverness Common Good Fund.
The Highland council agrred to slash £258,000 from the budget for Early Years organisations for 2019/20 The current budget for Early Years' Grants is £458k per annum. This is primarily an area-based budget where partners are able to apply for funding for one-off grants.
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