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Highlanders asked to face the council's budget challenge

By Tom Ramage

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Highland communities are being asked to help balance the council's budget, with a gap of some over £100 million being faced over the next three years.

Engagement with communities and staff will help to inform the budget proposals and consequent decisions which will be made in February, said council leader Raymond Bremner.

Fixing the budget: how to have your say
Fixing the budget: how to have your say

"This includes allocating resources to deliver the council’s strategic priorities and enable the best outcomes across the Highlands."

The council anticipates a budget gap of £60-70m in 2024-25 and £108m over the next 3 years, he explained.

"The budget gap will need to be closed by spending less, reducing some services, being more efficient and by increasing the level of income the council generates from Council Tax and other fees or charges."

Over 145 people have now watched a short video on the council's You Tube channel which explains challenge the authority is facing.

Councillor Bremner is inviting everyone to get involved: "The council is deeply affected by the financial crisis we are all experiencing. We are facing increasing costs and higher interest rates, leaving us with a significant budget gap next year.

Using the council's simulator
Using the council's simulator

“You can attempt the budget challenge yourself, using an online budget simulator, to see how you would make choices to balance the budget.

“You can also take part in a short budget survey and we would really like to hear your views.”

Council convener Bill Lobban added: “It is vital that we understand what is important to communities to help us make the right decisions as we plan ahead for the next three years.

“We want to be able to deliver our programme priorities and invest in the Highlands and, in order to do that, we need to prioritise how we use the resources available to us. We also have a legal duty to balance the council’s budget.”

There is more information in the video which details how the survey can be completed.

The budget challenge can be accepted here or take the budget challenge here

Themes emerging from the engagement activity will be reported to council in December.

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