The Highland Council has been engaging with key public, private and third sector partners to understand the shared impact of the current financial crisis and the action that can be taken to maximise combined resources and minimise the impact of the financial challenges.
They agreed a range of supports in a detailed report brought to Council today, 27 October including the following:
One-off support funding is to be provided for ELC Partners in the current financial year, based on the payment of an additional funding amount calculated as 32p per hour for 3-5 year old provision, and 53p per hour for 2 year old provision, which is to apply from August 2022.
Additional funding to support meal payments at £3.00 per meal was also approved for this period.
It was agreed to conclude the current review of ELC partner rate funding for August 2022, with recommendations to be considered by the Council in March 2023 relating to ELC funding for 2023/24.
A review of ELC re-design is to be taken forward, with further reports back to Education Committee in February 2023.
It was agreed to increase the Council’s earmarked balance held to support High Life Highland (HLH) by £0.4m to £1.4m, noting the steps HLH are taking to mitigate their in-year and ongoing budget pressures.
The funding will ensure HLH avoids entering a negative reserves position and provides assurance that they can implement the SJC pay award for their own staff in the current year.
Further work will also be taken forward in partnership with HLH in relation to redesign and contract review.
Also, Members agreed that redesign work will move forward at a pace regarding Adult Social Care and be reported in detail at an exceptional JMC Committee in November 2022.
It was noted that work has been completed by Eden Court to mitigate in-year pressures in light of the financial crisis and the consequential impact on their income.
Members noted that Council officers will continue reviewing all payments to external providers, whether grants, procured or commissioned services, with the Council’s ongoing financial sustainability in mind.
They agreed that in the light of budget uncertainty, recurring funding commitments should be avoided in advance of the budget setting meeting of the Council in March 2023.
The Leader of the Highland Council, Raymond Bremner said:
“All our organisations are affected by the profound financial crisis, with rapidly increasing costs of pay, energy, goods and services.
“It is also imperative however, that we are financially sustainable into the future.
“The engagement that the Council has had with partners has been constructive and it is through this that the recommendations have emerged.
“Due to the continued economic uncertainty, no recurring additional funding commitments can be considered at this time and decisions involving next year’s budget will be made as part of the budget setting process, once we have detailed information to hand to inform those decisions.
“In the meantime, we will continue working together with partners to reduce costs and provide best value for money, so that we can deliver a balanced budget and sustainable services into the future.”