Job cuts loom as coun­cil plugs £20m fund­ing gap

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

AROUND 122 jobs could be lost as the Highland Coun­cil tries to plug a £20 mil­lion fund­ing gap in its 2017/18 bud­get.

The lo­cal author­ity has said 66.6 Full Time Equiv­a­lent (FTE) posts will be ‘deleted’ along with 55.2 FTE posts as­so­ci­ated with the sav­ings from pre­vi­ous years.

To re­duce the need for com­pul­sory re­dun­dan­cies, the coun­cil has said it is work­ing with trade unions to look at re­cruit­ment con­trols and the re- de­ploy­ment of staff.

Bud­get leader Coun­cil­lor Bill Fernie said: ‘£20 mil­lion is a huge amount to take out of our bud­get, but we are try­ing our best to mit­i­gate the im­pact of these sav­ings on com­mu­ni­ties and on our staff.’

Mr Fernie said the num­ber of job cuts are ‘con­sid­er­ably lower than the amount an­tic­i­pated dur­ing the ear­lier stages of the bud­get process’.

The coun­cil will be propos­ing a re­duc­tion of £220,000 from street clean­ing in­stead of the £ 660,000 that was ini­tially pro­posed.

Mr Fernie said: ‘ We recog­nise street clean­ing makes a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the at­trac­tive ap­pear­ance of the High­lands for vis­i­tors, busi­nesses and res­i­dents and have there­fore worked with of­fi­cers to see how we can make a smaller cut, but mit­i­gate the im­pact of this as much as pos­si­ble.’

Bud­get pro­pos­als also in­clude in­creas­ing coun­cil tax by the max­i­mum al­lowed three per cent, gen­er­at­ing an ad­di­tional in­come of £ 3.510 mil­lion.

And on Fri­day the head of NHS Highland called on the coun­cil to con­sider the heath board’s bud­get al­lo­ca­tion ‘ very care­fully’ be­fore mak­ing any fi­nal de­ci­sions.

David Al­ston, chair­man of NHS Highland, said he was dis­ap­pointed at the coun­cil’s pro­posal to re­duce fund­ing for adult so­cial care by £7 mil­lion.

Mr Al­ston said: ‘While the Highland Coun­cil faces dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions, as does NHS Highland, the re­al­ity is that their in­come – the net rev­enue bud­get – will in­crease in 2017/18 by more than £ 5 mil­lion. Re­duced fund­ing to NHS Highland will have in­evitable im­pacts on our whole in­te­grated health and so­cial care sys­tem which has suc­cess­fully been in place for the last five years.’

But on Tuesday the coun­cil an­nounced it will pro­pose an ad­di­tional £1.174m to NHS Highland for adult care af­ter meet­ing with NHS Highland last week.

Leader of the coun­cil Mar­garet David­son said: ‘These are fi­nan­cially chal­leng­ing times for all of the pub­lic sec­tor. Since mak­ing our bud­get pro­pos­als, we have again met with our part­ners at NHS Highland, to dis­cuss the fund­ing for adult so­cial care.

‘The out­come of our re­cent dis­cus­sions is that the coun­cil ad­min­is­tra­tion will, on Thurs­day, be propos­ing to pro­vide an ad­di­tional £1.174m to NHS Highland to­wards the adult so­cial care bud­get in 2017/18.’

Mr Fernie said the coun­cil has ‘sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced the planned cuts to adult ser­vice’.

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