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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Three Year Savings Plan and Investment Strategy Approved by Council as it Sets Revenue Budget 

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Members have agreed a package of £54.634m savings as part of a three-year strategy to manage an estimated £113m budget gap. 

£26.079m of these budget savings have been agreed for 2024/25, with further savings in years 2 and 3.

In setting the Revenue Budget, a Council Tax freeze for 2024-25 was agreed.

This is supported by an uplift from the Scottish Government of £6.865m.

Members also agreed an investment plan worth over £100m.

£32.3m of Reserves will support the necessary change and redesign to deliver savings targets.

This includes £20m to support Adult Social Care, to deliver cost improvements and redesign, thus supporting the achievement of a multi-year £12.6m saving target against that budget. 

£1.2m from Reserves has also been agreed to build community capacity in the third sector and community groups in order to support training, mentoring and specialist support in areas such as health and social care.

£37m has been provided for in the budget to meet inflationary and other cost pressures and an additional £6m from reserves which will be used for property maintenance towards the estate most in urgent need of repairs.

Up to £60m of additional capital investment capacity is to be released through an additional £1m per annum of revenue investment in loan charge budgets over 3 years to support borrowing for capital.

This would significantly boost the Council’s opportunity to invest in important capital projects. Proposals for Capital investment will be brought to Council at a later date for consideration and approval, as an update to the Capital Programme agreed by Council in September 2023.

Leader of the Council Raymond Bremner said:

“I am pleased that members have approved a three year financial plan which is the best possible strategy for dealing with scale of the financial context.

“Many of the ideas for savings and redesign came from engagement with our staff and the public and this has helped us shape our proposals.

“The plan agreed allows for significant investment to take place and protect jobs across our communities.

“Work is underway now on the operational delivery of the budget, plans for which will be reported to the March Council.”

Convener Bill Lobban said:

“This plan signals the start of significant activity to deliver the savings and improvements.

“Redesign is fundamental to supporting the necessary transformation in order to redesign our services, maximise our income generation and release longer term, sustainable savings.”

A delivery plan will be brought to the Council meeting in March, setting out a programme of work and performance measures to deliver the savings and investment agreed by Council.

The budget papers and a report on the public engagement feedback can be found here: https://www.highland.gov.uk/budget

You can watch the meeting on the council YouTube channel here

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