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Highland Council cuts to be less severe than feared

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Council chiefs in the Highlands have revealed that cuts to services will be less severe than feared after the authority received its funding settlement.

Budget leader Bill Fernie said a new agreement with the Scottish Government this week will reduce the council’s cash shortfall by £6million.

He said the money would be used to spare planned cuts to social services for adults and children.

Councillor Fernie said: “The deal effectively reduces our budget gap from £26million to £20million.

“This has meant that we have been able to reconsider some of the severe cuts to services and third sector groups which were necessary before.

“We have looked carefully at all the savings and have done our best to reduce savings where we can to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“This means that we can significantly reduce the savings which were proposed for childcare and early learning.

“Also, some of the cuts to the £4million funding which goes to third sector groups which provide valuable children’s services, such as Action for Children and Barnardos, will now not be taken.

“We also hope to significantly reduce the planned cut to adult services which are provided through NHS Highland.”

The full proposals will be published on Friday, in advance of the council’s budget-setting meeting on February 16.

Mr Fernie added: “We have completely removed any savings from music tuition and we will not increase the charges for existing car parks or the Corran Ferry for this year.

“We will also continue to prioritise our Highland roads by looking to purchase an additional jet patcher.”

He added: “£20million is still a huge amount to take out of our budget, but we are trying our best to mitigate the impact of this on communities.”

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