Highlands & Islands

New savings package for Highland Council budget

Highland Council HQ Image copyright Google

Highland Council's ruling administration has accepted an alternative package of savings proposed by the SNP opposition.

It means £1.3m of planned cuts will be avoided but other savings will be made.

These include £500,000 by changing the council's policy on sickness absence and a further £500,000 in schools energy incentives.

A Liberal Democrats proposal to save money by cutting the pay of senior councillors was defeated.

SNP councillors had said they would oppose any cuts in funding to services supporting vulnerable people.

The ruling group, made up of independent councillors had proposed cuts in funding for deprived areas, street cleansing, homeless support, women's aid groups and the Blas Music Festival.

They said the savings had been forced on the authority, in part because of the council tax freeze.

Earlier this month, all 32 local authorities in Scotland accepted the Scottish government's funding deal worth £10.3bn.

Many did so reluctantly, claiming the continued council tax freeze would lead to severe pressure on budgets.

Highland Council's leader Margaret Davidson said not being able to raise funds from a tax increase would result in job cuts and some services being axed.

Bill Fernie, the council's budget leader, said the local authority had to deal with "unprecedented challenges" in setting a balanced budget.

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