A six-figure underspend by Inverness Common Good Fund (ICGF) this year should be used to help the most vulnerable, according to Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson.
A range of projects aimed at regenerating Inverness after the impact of Covid-19 is being costed by Highland Council officials, supported by a £341,000 underspend by ICGF.
An unquantified percentage could be ringfenced to target poverty and inequality.
Mrs Davidson urged using the underspend to help out with welfare.
She said: “I’m alarmed at the number of people are are falling through the cracks in support.
“There is a lot of inequality and potential job losses after the furlough scheme ends.
“We need rapid thinking and talking, it’s going to get harder not easier over the next six months.”
Projects on the table include the reconfiguration of Academy Street; the regeneration of Barron Taylor Street; the decluttering of the High Street; developing a brand for the Old Town; bringing back Eden Court; developing the Northern Meeting Point as a Covid-safe space for events/performance and the development of Torvean Park and ParkRun.
The council has established a city and area recovery group (CARG) to look at future capital projects and consider how ICGF could support the recovery.
Once the selected projects have been costed, councillors will choose which ones should be supported.
Key priorities stated are projects designed to support improvements in common spaces in Inverness and attract footfall to the centre; the creation of Covid-safe events to attract people into the centre, and activities focusing on poverty, food poverty, mental health, employability, training and community resilience.