Published: 31/01/2018 16:28 - Updated: 31/01/2018 16:32

Highland Council to get extra £7.5m in budget deal

Written byEmma Crichton

 

Green MSP John Finnie
Green MSP John Finnie
 

 

Swingeing cuts to Highland Council’s services will be lessened following a last minute Holyrood deal.

The Green party agreed to support the minority SNP Government’s settlement on the proviso that an extra £170 million is given to local authorities, which was confirmed this afternoon.

This will see £7.5 million more given to the Highlands than initially thought, as leading councillors prepared to make £24 million worth of cuts.

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie said: "I am delighted that my Green MSP colleagues and I have been able to seal this monumental deal which will ensure Highland Council’s proposed cuts can now be significantly reduced.

"This deal demonstrates how electing Greens can make a real difference to communities.

"Badenoch and Strathspey Councillor Pippa Hadley and I have continuously pressed for these cuts to be scrapped and I’m thrilled that we have delivered a fair settlement today.

"The budget agreement will see those earning lower than average incomes pay less income tax, it will ensure the vast majority of public sector staff – including nurses and teachers – receive a pay rise linked to inflation and provide more investment in communities.

"While other parties continue to posture from the side-lines, Greens are making Highland and Scotland fairer. This agreement is the latest step in a journey on restoring financial powers at local level, on which we will need to see far more progress before next year’s budget, as the annual fight against council cuts must not continue."

Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes MSP has urged for the money to be used to prevent education cuts.

The SNP politician said: "I was disappointed and incredulous at Highland Councils proposals to cut additional support need staff and teachers across the Highlands a few weeks ago.

"Today’s increases mean that there is absolutely no excuse to keep any cuts to teacher numbers on the table.

"Highland Council must protect education spend, at a time when the Scottish Government has again allocated £120 million going directly to head teachers.

"This is about ensuring that Highland kids have the same opportunities as kids in other council areas.

"I know that parents have been outraged by Highland Council proposals to cut additional support needs staff, prompting a u-turn, but Highland councillors have got to put a stop to all cuts to teacher numbers.

"After today’s budget announcement, there is no excuse for cuts in education or infrastructure."

Up to 40 secondary school teaching jobs posts currently at risk in the budget to go before the council on February 15 at council headquarters.

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