/ Home / Your Council / News / News Releases / 2008 / December
Early planning helps mitigate impact of budget savings (12/12/08)
Highland Councillors are being advised that the Council’s Administration is making good progress in identifying savings that require to be made to bridge a gap in the budget caused by rising fuel and energy costs, the freeze on Council tax and other pressures.
A report to the full council on Thursday 18 December advises councillors how the Council’s Administration will manage the budget of four of its seven Services over the next two years. The services are the Chief Executive’s, Finance, Housing & Property and Planning & Development.
The Administration will return with proposals for meeting savings in Education Culture and Sport, Social Work and Transport Environmental and Community Services before setting the budget and the Council Tax for 2009/10 on 12 February, next year.
Each Director has been asked to identify savings of 5% to close the funding gap.
Council Budget Leader, David Alston, said: “These proposals represent a major step forward in the way we manage the Council’s budgets. By making decisions now, rather than waiting until February – when the budget was traditionally set – we will make savings as soon as possible. And by planning ahead for two years, we create the opportunity for more effective implementation, greater efficiency and more involvement of elected members in planning for the future.
‘The savings amount to 5% of the budget in each of these Services. We have sought to achieve as many savings as possible through improved efficiency – that is, by providing the same service using fewer resources – and we have far exceeded the target of 2% efficiency savings set for us by the Scottish Government.
‘The proposals involve a fall in the number of jobs in these Services but we believe that this reduction can be achieved through the year on year turn-over of staff. Planning ahead, as we have done, makes this more likely. Along with other Councils in Scotland, we face a challenging financial situation over the next few years. Rising energy costs, the credit crunch and other pressures on budgets add to our costs – while the need to work within the Scottish Government’s freeze on council tax restricts our income.
‘We are committed to playing a full part in seeing the Highlands through the current financial and economic problems and we have also asked all our Services to prepare longer term financial plans, to identify both savings and service improvements for future years.”