Highland Council Analysis Shows £31 Million Budget Gap For 2019/20
9th January 2019
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.
The Council has been planning for several months for budget reductions over the next 3 years and has carried out significant public and staff engagement to identify local priorities and areas of potential savings.
Budget Leader Cllr Alister Mackinnon said: "The funding settlement and additional requirements for Local Authorities has increased our anticipated budget gap substantially. We were already preparing for a significant reduction, but this news sets us a huge challenge and may mean we will need to bring forward savings from future years.
"The work we have been doing stands us in good stead and we are much better prepared for a challenging scenario. We have taken a new approach to the budget setting this year, looking at re-basing all budgets, focusing on outcomes and removing all inefficiency. We are also continuing to work on current in-year pressures with tighter financial controls and a freeze on filling vacant posts.
“The situation will require big changes to what we currently do and how we do it and will require support from our workforce and across the political spectrum. Income generation and efficiency are key to managing the situation we are in. We are determined to do the best we can for Highland within the resources we have and to deliver a budget which protects essential services and jobs which support the wider economy."
Chief Executive Donna Manson added: “I would like to thank the public and staff who participated in our public engagement across the Highlands. This has given us a huge amount of information and a much better understanding of how we can do things better. The overwhelming theme has been that the Council can be much more efficient and our aim is to do everything possible to demonstrate that we are listening and acting on what we have heard.
“We will be back out again to meet with partners, groups and communities as we work to develop the detail of the budget in the coming weeks."
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has warned that the Scottish Government's Budget will hit vulnerable communities the hardest. COSLA has warned the Government that it has not considered successive years of cuts, or rising inflation and demand and have therefore put council services at risk.
Following a review taxi fares in Highland have been held at the same level by the Highland Council Licensing Committee held on 18 February 2019. The papers and the debate on this issue can be seen at items six on the webcast - https://highland.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/469655 There is a 14 Day period for appeal.
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The standstill period under the Council's Trades Services Framework agreement was due to close with effect from Monday 17th February 2020, with the intention of a proposed go live date with the new arrangements and contracts of 24th February. The standstill period is a defined period of time between the notice of the contract award decision and the award of the contract.
On 14th February 2020 the Highland council place an advert in the Northern times newspaper regarding the Spaceport planning application as follows. - THE HIGHLAND COUNCIL TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (SCOTLAND) ACT 1997 TOWN and COUNTRY PLANNING (ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT) (SCOTLAND) REGULATIONS 2017.
Members today approved a modest 3% rent increase for residential rents and service charges following detailed consultation with tenants. The increase will result in a rise in the average weekly council house rent from £75.38 to £77.74 (£2.26), which means that Highland rents are still 8th lowest of the 26 councils which retain housing.
Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer's first annual report highlights successes and challenges.` Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer for Highland Council, Karen Ralston, has enjoyed a successful first year in her role. Members today noted the 2018/19 annual report at the meeting of the Health, Wellbeing and Social Care committee.
Highland Council Trading Standards are again warning unsuspecting residents of the emergence of a new Council Tax scam. Today a call was received by the Council from a Council Tax payer alerting to a Council Tax scam whereby scammers are now texting people and informing them that they are due a Council Tax rebate.
The Highland Council has published the Highland Common Good Asset Register following the completion of a consultation process required by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. The Register has been published on the Council's website and can be accessed from the download link on the page titled "Common Good Asset Register" or at the following link: https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/20010/community_planning/840/common_good_asset_register For ease of reference, the Register has been divided in the separate former Burghs having recorded Common Good Funds - Cromarty, Dingwall, Dornoch, Fortrose and Rosemarkie, Invergordon, Inverness, Nairn and Tain.
According to the draft Scottish Govenment budget, Highlands and Islands Enterprise will get £58.2 million in the upcoming financial year - down from £61.1 million last year. 2018/19 the budget was £71.7 million.
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