Highland Council reports good progress against the Council Programme "Working together for the Highlands"

Highland Council can report being on target or having completed 96% of the 139 commitments outlined in the 5-year Council Programme "Working together for the Highlands 2012-17".

Overall satisfaction with Council services during 2013-14 was 87%, the 2nd highest figure ever reported by our Citizen's Panel.

Chief Executive Steve Barron said: “I am pleased to report that we are making really good progress against our commitments in the programme. A great deal has already been achieved, but we are not complacent and will continue to work with our partners to jointly deliver our promises across the range of themes, which aim to improve the lives and outcomes for people across the Highlands.”

Among the commitments which have been completed or progressing well:

  • We supported 8803 businesses through the Small Business Bonus Scheme (business rate relief) in 2013/14, nearly 300 more than the previous year.
  • Our installed capacity of renewable energy has increased in 2013/14 to 5080MW compared to 1471MW in 2012/13, significantly exceeding our target.
  • The Council provided advice to customers which benefitted them by a total of £1.634m in 2013/14. We also assisted 1275 customers with our money advice service.
  • We increased the number of people receiving self-directed support to 262 in 2013/14 from 223 the previous year in advance of the new Social Care Self Directed Support (Scotland) Act coming into force on 1 April 2014.
  • We achieved an increase in over 65's receiving care at home service to 2447 from 2417 in 2012/13.
  • Eleven community networkers have been appointed to identify support for elderly people and shift resources into preventative care.
  • We exceeded targets by paying 73.4% of invoices within 10 days and 93.3% within 30 days during 2013/14. 
  • We increased the number of young people leaving school moving into education, training or employment to 93% from 90% in the previous academic year.
  • £2m funding for early years services has created 9 additional health visitor posts, 12 early years practitioners, 4 social workers and 20 other posts to enhance support to children and young families.
  • The Pupil Support Assistant role is fully implemented with an additional £1.65m funding in 2014/15.
  • Our bi-annual survey of pupils (Oct 2013) showed 87.5% reporting a positive learning environment.
  • Phase 1 of River Ness Flood alleviation scheme is well underway, Phase 2 started in June 2014 and Phase 3 of the Smithton/Culloden works is to commence this autumn.
  • We built 261 new Council houses to date against the overall target of 600 by 2017 (134 built in 2013/14).
  • The work of the homelessness prevention team has helped to significantly reduce homelessness from 2147 presentations in 2010/11 to 990 in 2013/14.
  • Area committees have been successfully rolled out with a focus on collaboration with partners to improve economic vibrancy.

Chief Executive Steve Barron added, “There are a small number of targets which continue to present challenge. We will continue to work closely with our partners in health and other agencies to address shared priorities such as reducing the number of emergency admissions and delayed discharge for our elderly people.”

Council Leader Drew Hendry and Depute Leader David Alston welcomed the report which was presented to the full council meeting on 4 September. 

Councillor Alston said: "Despite the many challenges facing us, we have proven that, working together with our partners, we can deliver very positive outcomes.”

Councillor Hendry added: "This report demonstrates excellent progress against an ambitious Council Programme. Council staff are to be highly commended for their hard work which has helped to drive these achievements. We are well on target to deliver on all of our 139 promises by 2017."

-ENDS-

4 Sep 2014
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