Highland Council says extra funds has saved jobs

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Highland Council's budget leader has said extra funding from the Scottish government means there will be no job cuts in the coming financial year.

It expects to get an extra £7.5m in its block grant after the Scottish Greens supported the SNP's Scottish budget.

The deal saw the Greens win an additional £170m for councils.

Highland's budget leader Alister Mackinnon said its extra funding meant the local authority could "avoid the loss of any jobs".

Highland Council's ruling Independent-Lib Dem-Labour administration had said it was having to consider making "unpalatable" cuts to services that had previously been protected from savings, including education.

Mr Mackinnon said even with the extra money difficult decisions on cuts would still have to be made.

He said: "The funding will give us the means to protect more frontline services and to avoid the loss of any jobs.

"However, due to the size of our budget gap which has increased to allow for the changes to government's proposed pay settlement, we still need to make savings or generate additional income to the tune of £16m. This will not be easy.

"We have done a great deal of work in identifying options to close this gap with the least possible impact on essential services.

"We also anticipate that there will continue to be increased pressures and a need for savings in future years and we need to plan ahead for these."

Proposals on how to balance the local authority's budget for 2018-19 and to prepare for future years will be put before a meeting of the full council on 15 February.

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