Highland Council Final Accounts For 2018/19 Show Improved Position
17th May 2019
A greatly improved financial position is to be reported to the council's Corporate Resources Committee meeting next week for the financial year 2018/19. The position reflects the overspend reducing by £3M due to management actions in recent months.
Budget Leader Cllr Alister Mackinnon, Chair of the Resources Committee said: "The final outturn for the year is an overspend of £2.280M. This reflects a substantial improvement from the forecasted overspend at end of quarter 3 of £5.550M. This is around £3M better than anticipated a few months ago.
"This more positive position demonstrates the steps taken at an early stage to address and correct what was a worsening position at the time. Strong governance, vacancy management and expenditure controls have not been easy, but have been essential to bring us back into a more stable position. I want to thank all staff for their help with delivering this result."
He added: "We will need to keep on top of this as there will be further risks and challenges in the year ahead. We will be continuing to monitor the budget on a weekly basis and I am confident that we have the right processes in place to deliver the 19-20 budget."
Net spend on services for the year 2018-19 totalled £559.254M. The impact of the deficit has been mostly offset by a review of earmarked reserves and net income. This has reduced the council's non-earmarked general reserve fund by £0.637M to £7.925M.
As at 31st March 2019 the Council's total general fund reserves stand at £20.300m. Of these £12.375m are earmarked (i.e. held for specific purposes), with the balance of £7.925m not earmarked.
Full details of the Highland council budget monitoring report can be seen at Item 5 at https://www.highland.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/4126/corporate_resources_committee
Extra cash in the pockets of low income families Eligible parents of children aged four and five are being encouraged to apply for financial support worth £250. The one-off £250 payment is currently open to eligible families with a child who was born between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016 and who is old enough to start primary one this year.
Works on the Inverness West Link Stage 2 were suspended on the 24 March 2020 following COVID-19 guidance from the Scottish Government. The Highland Council has been in dialogue with Contractors RJ McLeod and has agreed that essential works are required to begin to address safety issues but primarily the works to be undertaken are to provide for physical distancing and encourage active travel, walking, wheeling and cycling as part of, and to augment the successful Spaces for People project.
The COVID-19 small business and self-catering grant schemes, set up to help companies stay in business during the coronavirus crisis, have now paid out £59,628,750 to over 5500 Highland businesses. The Council has now processed 99% of the applications received since the grant schemes opened.
Blueprint for safe return to classes. Detailed guidance on practical measures to allow schools to re-open on 11 August has been published.
The Highland Council is assessing the implications of the First Minister's announcements made on the 21st May about the first stage relaxation of lockdown, concerning teachers and other education staff returning to the workplace during June to prepare for the return to school and settings on 11th August. Highland Council's Education Committee Chair, Cllr John Finlayson said: "The return to workplace and Highland schools for our Education staff will have to be undertaken carefully and gradually.
The Highland Council's Environmental Health Team is advising consumers to use their water wisely and check their private water supply systems for any signs of water leaks or risks of contamination. A private water supply is a property that does not have a Scottish Water mains water connection.
The Highland Council can now confirm which of the Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC) across the region will re-open from Monday 1st June 2020. A phased approach to re-opening the sites will be adopted with strict controls in place to help manage social distancing and to ensure the anticipated high number of visitors and volume of waste can be handled safely and efficiently.
The Highland Council's Housing Service currently operates an annual garden aid scheme, cutting grass in approximately 1,300 council house gardens. The Garden Aid service is for older or disabled tenants who don't have anyone to help them cut their grass.
Following an ambitious bid by Highland Council supported by NHS Highland, to deliver rapid active travel interventions in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, The Highland Council has been awarded £752,954 from the Scottish Government's Spaces for People fund, which is administered by Sustrans. Over the coming weeks towns across Highland and the City of Inverness will see a roll-out of temporary walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure along priority routes.
Public assurance is being provided by Highland Council that the organisation is fully transparent and accountable during the COVID-19 emergency response as it publishes decisions made by its group of senior officers - or Gold Group* - under emergency procedures. The list of decisions made since 19 March 2020 is on the Council's website at the following link and will continue to the added to and updated as further decisions are made using emergency procedures.
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