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.
Highland Council's Trading Standards Team is urging consumers to check whether their tumble dryer is covered by a nation-wide product recall. Safety concerns affect a wide range of models and the manufacturer is offering a brand new machine at no cost to replace the problem items.
The Highland Council is supporting this year's Challenge Poverty Week, which runs from 7-13 October 2019. The Scotland-wide campaign led by the Poverty Alliance is designed to raise awareness that poverty exists in Scotland and restricts people's ability to take part in society.
The Highland Council has once again been alerted to a Council Tax scam whereby scammers are cold calling and claiming that the resident is due a council tax refund or can have their Council Tax band reassessed upon payment of £150. Council Tax bands are determined by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer who is independent from the Highland Council.
Motorists are being advised that in the interests of public safety during the Loch Ness Marathon, River Ness 10k Race and River Ness 5k Fun Run charity events taking place this Sunday 6th October 2019, various roads temporary closures and restrictions will be in place. The Infirmary Bridge in Inverness will also be closed to pedestrians and cyclists on Sunday 6th October from 09:00 to 17:00.
The Highland Council has welcomed the announcement that it is to receive nearly £1.3m from the Scottish Crown Estate out of a total of £7.5m which was the net revenue from the marine assets in the 0-12 nautical mile zone for the year 2017-2018. Following the recent devolution of the management of the Crown Estate, this is the first year under these new arrangements which will enable coastal local authorities to fund coastal community benefit across the region.
Wickers are being given the chance to help transform their High Street into a more vibrant, accessible and a welcoming place for everyone to spend time in, as part of the Town Centre Regeneration. The Wick Street Design project is being delivered by Sustrans Scotland in partnership with The Highland Council, Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council and Local Councillors.
The Highland Council is taking the opportunity during Recycle Week 2019 to encourage Highland households and businesses to do their bit and remember to recycle as much as they can. Recycle Week (23- 29 September 2019) is the annual awareness week coordinated by Zero Waste Scotland, aiming to get everyone recycling more by raising awareness of the benefits and promoting easy ways to do more.
Consumer complaints about second-hand cars have topped the complaints "league table" in Scotland for many years. Common problems include mechanical issues, misdescribed cars and history.
Changes to a number of Polling Districts and Polling Places in the Highlands were agreed yesterday (Thursday 5 September 2019) at the meeting of The Highland Council. Members approved a new Scheme of Polling Districts and Polling Places that will be in place for the next four years.
As part of The Highland Council's Redesign, the Council has announced two further appointments to new posts of Executive Chief Officer (ECO). Stuart Black, Director of Development and Infrastructure, will take up the post of ECO for Transformation and Economy at the end of the month.
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