Substantial Budget Savings Already Achieved By Highland Council
26th June 2019
Two thirds of agreed savings have already been achieved to date since the Highland Council set its budget in February 2019.
On 14 February 2019 the Council approved its budget strategy and Change Programme "A Sustainable Highland" based around 4 themes: Making the Council More Efficient; Commercialism and Income Generation; Redesign and Improvement; and A Flexible and Well Managed Workforce, to deliver £37.456m of savings over the next three years. At the same time, approval was given to introduce a Programme Office to oversee the delivery of 16 major transformational projects and a £2.5m Change Fund was established to ensure this ambitious programme was effectively resourced.
Good progress is being made, with over two thirds of the 2019/20 savings target already achieved and project plans in place for the remainder.
A full evaluation of progress toward achieving the 2019/20 savings target was carried out at the Change Programme Board on 28th May 2019. This exercise has further informed the ongoing work with the Change Programme and has helped direct efforts towards the key areas where change is still required. The findings of this exercise demonstrate that very good progress is being made towards delivering the £24.581m savings agreed by Council on 14th February 2019.
By the first quarter of the current financial year, a total of £16.714m of agreed savings has been delivered in full. A further £0.136m of savings has been partially achieved to date (£0.075m from renegotiation of the printing contract and £0.061m from Development and Infrastructure Vacancy Management). This gives a total of £16.85m equating to 68% of the overall total budget savings.
Budget Leader Alister Mackinnon said: "We have already delivered two thirds of the savings agreed in February. This is a huge achievement and I want to congratulate everyone involved in making this happen.
"An immense amount of work has been done to deliver these savings and we have done this while keeping our commitment to avoiding staff redundancies."
He added: "We will not be complacent however. We intend to get ahead of the game and plan to agree a budget for 2020-21 in the autumn. Public and staff engagement will continue over the summer and autumn as part of this process."
Members have been provided with Programme progress updates at full Council meetings in March and May 2019, presentations have been given at the monthly all-Member Budget Briefings and Programme updates have also been reported to the Redesign Board and the Commercial Board.
The Executive Leadership Team has provided detailed oversight and scrutiny of the programme at weekly Programme Board meetings and staff have been kept up to date with the aims, progress and requirements of the Programme through the recent Budget Holder Briefing sessions and the staff In Brief publication.
Council will be asked to consider the progress made to date, and to approve proposals for the third phase of the change fund at its meeting on Thursday 27 June 2019.
One hundred and seventeen (117) probationer teachers were recently welcomed to Highland at an Induction course held at Millburn Academy in Inverness. The probationer teachers' induction day is the first of a number of professional learning events throughout the year specifically arranged to support probationer teacher induction and their ongoing professional learning.
Measures to be put in place to cut down amount of construction and demolition waste collected at Household Waste Recycling Centres. The Highland Council will be putting measures in place to restrict the amount of construction and demolition waste bought to its network of 21 Household Waste Recycling Centres.
Highland Council today (15 August 2019) launched a consultation on a potential Highland Transient Visitor Levy. The Council has not yet made a decision on whether to implement a Transient Visitor Levy (TVL), also known as a Tourist Tax.
The Highland Council is warning the public of the presence of an algal bloom at Loch Watten, Caithness, following an examination of sample water on Monday (12/08/19). As a precautionary measure, environmental health have posted notices next to the water body, warning that contact with the algal scum or material should be avoided.
An officer in the Highland Council's Trading Standards team has won a UK award for her work on anti-counterfeiting and protecting consumers. Lynn Foster was presented with the Dave Hankinson Memorial Award for Individual Excellence by Phil Lewis, Director General of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG).
IoT Scotland has welcomed its first customer after The Highland Council selected the open access network to provide IoT connectivity for an innovative and transformational water monitoring contract. The Highland Council awarded a three-year contract to Dundee-based IoT Scotland partner M2M Cloud to roll out their Neptune water-monitoring sensor technology to over one hundred buildings across their estate.
The Highland Council, in partnership with Adaptation Scotland, have launched a survey asking local communities and businesses to share their experiences about how they have been affected by severe weather and climate change over the past few years. While the impacts of climate change and extreme weather are already being felt across the Highlands, from damage to infrastructure, to disruption of vital services and a shift in growing seasons, more information is needed about how local communities and businesses are being affected.
Highland S4 pupils have recorded excellent levels of National 5 awards with 45% pupils in S5 achieving 5 National 5s - an increase of 6% since 2015 and an increase of 2.5 % compared to last year. There has also been a significant increase (8%) in the number of passes in Higher English - 94% passed this year compared to 86% last year.
As part of The Highland Council's re-design, the Council has made three appointments to new posts of Executive Chief Officer. Taking up appointment on 13 August 2019 is Liz Denovan , Executive Chief Officer - Resources and Finance; Carron McDiarmid, Executive Chief Officer - Customer and Communities takes up post in September and Lesley Weber starts on 25 September as Executive Chief Officer - Health and Social Care.
Highland Council's Environmental Health team have identified raised levels of naturally occurring algal toxins following routine monitoring in coastal waters at Loch Glencoul, Kylesku area. Eating shellfish such as cockles, mussels, oysters or razor fish from these areas may pose a health risk arising from the consumption of these algal toxins.
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