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WATCH: £60m Highland Council budget hole sparks call for public views on priorities

By Philip Murray

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Views are being urgently sought from the public over ways Highland Council can address a £60m gap in its budget.

Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner has called on the public, council staff, and partner agencies to "tell us more" on budget suggestions for the coming financial year.

Following analysis of the Scottish Government’s budget published in December, the council says it is now facing an estimated budget gap of around £60m in 2024-25 and is expected to need more than £113m across the next three years to balance the books with current expenditure.

After deploying some financial tools now available, and subject to decisions on council tax, the council says it will likely need to make around £57m in savings over three years, with £38m savings in the next financial year.

The council’s call for views follows the first stage of its budget survey in December, when more than 2000 people took part – making over 7000 suggestions on how the council can balance its 2024-25 budget.

The local authority said the thousands of public suggestions had now been analysed and public, partners and staff are being invited to take part in a second survey to "tell us more2 about some of the suggestions and how these might have an impact.

The feedback will help to inform the council's budget proposals and subsequent decisions over savings.

Leader of the council, Cllr Raymond Bremner invited people to provide further feedback on the budget suggestions he said: “Thank you to everyone who responded to the call at the end of last year to take part in our budget survey and simulator.

"We are now seeking further feedback on some of the suggestions put forward and I encourage as many people as possible to have their say on these. It is important that we know what matters most to our communities so that we can focus Council resources on key priorities.”

Convener of the council, Cllr Bill Lobban, added: “The level of response to the budget engagement at the end of last year has demonstrated the high level of interest that people have in council services.

“There are substantial savings necessary for us to balance the budget. It is vital that we understand what is important to communities and the potential impacts of suggestions to help us make the right decisions as we plan for the next three years.”

You can get more information, watch a short "tell us more" video and find out how to complete the second survey at https://engagehighland.co.uk/budget-engagement.

Results of the second survey will inform final budget proposals that will be considered by councillors at a special meeting on February 29. The meeting will be webcast live and a recording of the meeting made available online following its conclusion.

Visit for more information www.highland.gov.uk/budget.

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