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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.


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