Impact on PSA posts significantly reduced to under 12 across Highland
21st May 2019
There will be minimal impact on PSA posts due to extensive work done to protect staff through the holding back over 50 vacant posts and identifying other opportunities within the council.
We have committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies. PSAs will be given priority to move into new and vacant posts and they will be offered one to one discussions with an HR advisor if they wish, as well as access to a career coach and a guaranteed interview for relevant any post arising.
Only 1% of PSA staff are required to move into new roles - far fewer than originally expected.
There are currently over 1100 PSA members of staff and the Council identified 63FTE posts to be reduced from after the summer holidays. Over 50 of these have been achieved through deleting posts that are presently vacant and will be vacant by the end of term.
There are around 11FTE PSA staff to be supported into alternative employment with the Council. Just under 10FTE are in South Highland and under 2FTE in the North Highland area.
There may be some changes across a few schools where the needs of pupils have changed and PSA support will follow that need, but this is part of the normal allocations process and is not affected by the need to reduce the number of PSA posts.
Teacher training to support inclusive education has been developed and will be rolled out first to those schools affected by reductions in staffing to meet the needs of pupils. This will include training across all staff groups in schools in communication, nurture, resilience and autism, to support a more inclusive education system with an emphasis on staff wellbeing to relieve stress and reduce absence.
Following discussions with parents, a proposal was agreed at the beginning of May (9th May) as part of the Change Programme Fund, to allocate resource for Parent and Pupil Advocacy to ensure inclusion of the parent voice in the ASN redesign.
Budget Leader Cllr Alister Mackinnon said: "We have been working closely with staff, trade unions and interest groups as we are determined how best to meet the ASN allocation requirements. Now that we have reached our conclusion we will continue to work with affected staff in ensuring a smooth transition. We look forward to implementing our teacher training, as well as working alongside our parent and pupil advocates, once they are appointed, as work on the ASN redesign project progresses."
Following the freezing of some charges and suspension of enforcement for others during the lockdown period, The Highland Council has been following a phased return to normal operations since the 26th of June. Further details are given below.
Many Highland Council tenants may be missing out on help towards their rent from Universal Credit because they have not notified the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of their annual rent increase which came into effect on the 30th March 2020. Those tenants who have not yet reported their rent increase could be facing a shortfall in the help they receive towards their rent, putting them at risk of rent arrears.
The Highland Council is updating parents and carers of its position on early learning and childcare (ELC). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Scottish Government removed the statutory requirement for Local Authorities to deliver 1140 hours of ELC from August.
Following on from the recent publication of Highland Council's Supporting Economic Recovery in Highland - A Guide for Businesses - the Council is announcing relaxation of some controls that will assist tourist accommodation providers have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In recognition of this where there are specific planning and licensing controls in relation to occupancy, for example: a restriction on the occupancy of any caravan for a continuous 12 month period; or where conditions restrict occupancy for specific periods of time, ...these will be relaxed by the Council up to and including April 2021.
The Caithness Committee met virtual today for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic and it's agenda focused on the actions taken by the Council and the third sector to deal with the effects of Coronavirus in Caithness. The Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning, Paul Senior, gave members an update on the plans and preparations underway to prepare for the return of pupils and staff to Caithness schools in August.
Margaret Davidson, the Leader of the Highland Council has given her strong support to the efforts of the Scottish Government to obtain greater fiscal flexibility from the UK Government. The Scottish Government have sought flexibility to offset capital underspend against resource expenditure, more flexibility over resource borrowing and greater flexibility over the use of the reserve for capital.
The Highland Council is planning to re-open play areas across the region throughout summer. Advice was provided by the Scottish Government on 28 June as to the safety measures that should be applied.
The Highland Council was one of the first local authorities in Scotland recognised to develop a Schools Digital Learning Hub, which provides a resource for staff, parents and pupils to support home learning. Prior to Covid-19, we had an estate of 27,000 Chromebooks that were already a part of our ICT in Learning Strategy.
Earlier today (Wednesday 1 July 2020) members of The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee had the opportunity to discuss (by video conference) progress made with the Corran Ferry Project which is reviewing the options for securing a replacement ferry and considering the way forward for the future operation and management of the service. The Corran ferry service has reached a critical point and strategic decisions need to be made.
As Scotland prepares for the easing of lockdown and the re-opening of the tourism and hospitality sector, The Highland Council's Environmental Health are advising holiday accommodation providers to make sure their private water supplies are safe to drink. A large number of self-catering and tourist accommodation in the Highlands are served by private water supplies and with these being closed during the lockdown period, the water supply system may not have been maintained and could create a risk to the quality and safety of the drinking water.