Job cuts loom as council plugs £20m funding gap
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’.