Highland's Budget Allocation from Scottish Government May Make Financial Position Worse
18th December 2018
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. Initial indications are that a large part of the settlement is ring-fenced for new things and the cut to our core budget to fund existing services is much greater that we had feared. We will not know an accurate position until early in the New Year, but we will certainly be facing an extremely challenging situation."
Depute Leader Alasdair Christie called for a rethink of the proposals. He said: "I would echo the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities' view that this is very bad news for people in our area. We all know that the Highlands is a unique area and should be treated in a different way to the central belt we have significant challenges of scale, fragility remoteness and many rural communities and a vast and aging and decaying road and building infrastructure. The draft budget indicates a severe cut to our day to day budgets and greatly increases the risks to the delivery of essential everyday services in the future year all this will have a very negative impact on the local economy and all residents."
“In Highland, we are ambitious for the future and we want to see investment in our communities to reach their full potential. It is frustrating and disappointing to see a draft budget which, yet again, disinvests in Highland.”
Commenting following the individual allocations, from the draft Budget, for each of Scotland’s 32 councils COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said:“This is not good news for Scottish Local Government and without a rethink from Scottish Government or a Parliamentary intervention it puts at risk the delivery of essential services in the coming year.
“I stand ready to work with Scottish Government and all Parliamentary parties to discuss how we can mitigate or reverse cuts that will have a direct impact on the crucial services we deliver. Without meaningful movement on the basic settlement and proper discussions around enabling Local Government to raise more locally I fear we are running towards a cliff edge.
“The circular announcing individual Council budgets allows us to see the real impact of the £237 million pound cut on the ground, and there can be no hiding from the fact that budgets at the local level, in local communities, have gone down substantially.
“The issuing of the circular today, basically confirms what we already knew, that this is a severe cut to the core budget that provides the vast majority of our essential services.
“This is bad news for communities - the impact on jobs and services is significant. The budget does not recognise our role as an employer, procurer and deliverer of essential services.
“If this settlement is not changed it will mean substantial job losses in places where Local Government is the main employer. Scottish Government need to look at the bigger picture and really start to think again about the economic impact of such a challenging settlement for Scottish Local Government.”
Highland council will issue a further update and analysis on 7th January 2019.
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.".
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.
Members have agreed six priority commitments in a revised Council Programme at today's council meeting. The six themes within the Programme are: A Council that Champions the Highlands; A Place to Live; A place to Thrive; A place to Prosper; A Welcoming Place; and Your Highland Council These themes and the actions which the council has agreed to, reflect priorities which have emerged through the round of public engagement during November.
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