Highland Council ‘must change to ensure it is financially sustainable’

Highland Council must make significant savings and change the way it delivers services to ensure it can live within its financial means, according to a report by the Accounts Commission.

Published today, the report said that in recent years the council has had a poor record of delivering on savings. It must also increase the current pace of change to realise budget savings of up to £77.3 million by 2023.

At the same time, over the last five years, the performance of many services has declined against national indicators, notably education. The council must also get better at evaluating and reporting on its own performance. This will help Highland Council understand why service performance is falling and drive forward improvement that’s necessary for the future, the report added.

There have been recent changes within the council, including restructuring the senior management team. With difficult decisions to make, it is essential that councillors continue to work together constructively and involve staff and local communities.

Andrew Burns, member of the Accounts Commission, said: “This report makes clear the very challenging financial position faced by the council and changes to the way services are delivered are vital. It is reassuring that change is now happening more quickly and it is really important that this momentum is maintained. It will, however, be very challenging for the council to meet all of its commitments and priorities.

“Given the urgent nature of the issues raised in our report, the Accounts Commission will maintain a close interest in the progress made by Highland Council.“

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