Multi-year budget agreed
The Highland Council has agreed to plan for a multi-year budget for the next 3 financial years (2019-22) to meet the challenge of a potential funding gap of up to £124.9 million.
Over the period 2013/14 to 2018/19 the Highland Council has already had to approve budget savings of £102.1 million as well as agree Council tax rises of 3% in each of the last two years in order to deliver a balanced budget.
In Scotland, local government has probably been the hardest hit of the wider public sector in terms of real terms reductions in funding. A recently produced report by SPICe highlights that between 2013/14 and 2017/18 there was a 7.1% fall in the local government revenue settlement in real terms. Over that same period the Scottish Government revenue budget decreased by 1.8% in real terms. The same SPICe report identifies that over the period 2013/14 to 2018/19 Highland Council has seen a reduction in funding per head of population of £172, the fourth highest of all mainland authorities.
Budget Leader Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: “This Council has seen a cut in real terms over the past 5 years and the outlook continues to look grim. The future is by no means certain and we have to consider a number of possible scenarios. The best thing we can do is be as well prepared as we can for not just next year but for the following years up to 2022.
“It has not been easy in the past budgets and it will not be easy to find even more savings on top of those we have already made. Income generation and efficiencies become even more vital in this context and we need to work across the chamber to do our best for the people of the Highlands.”