Savings Proposal could change Council’s working week

Members of the Citizens’ Panel will be asked to take part in a survey on a range of savings proposals, to be issued later this week.

The Highland Council will meet in February to set a balanced budget for 2016/17. This will be particularly challenging this year as, based on current assumptions, we expect to face a gap of over £21m. Service management teams have been developing savings proposals over recent months against a target of 6% and some of these proposals will form part of a consultation with the Citizens Panel from Friday 27 November.

One of the saving proposals is to change the normal working pattern of the Council and move to a 4.5 day week, closing on Friday lunchtime. If this proposal were agreed by Members, there could be significant savings arising from the costs of running facilities including heat, light and power.

Most staff would still be working their existing contracted hours, but doing so over 4.5 days. Some people may wish to reduce their contracted hours and this option could be available on a voluntary basis where practical.

Chief Executive Steve Barron has written to all staff who will also be briefed by their service directors in due course. He said: “It is important that to note that this is currently a proposal only; one which needs further work and which would only be implemented with the agreement of Elected Members in February. Clearly there will be some Service areas where this could pose practical difficulties, hence the wish to consult and to think carefully about impact and feasibility.”

Budget Leader Cllr Bill Fernie said: “At this stage this is just a proposal, but we think it is a good idea and one which compare very favourably with some of the other options coming forward, and we will be consulting widely. It is our priority to maintain services and jobs in Highland and as such, this is part of a package of proposed measures, with the aim of setting a balanced budget, whilst protecting key services.”

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23 Nov 2015
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