Highland Council has offered its staff the option of taking voluntary redundancy or working fewer hours in order to help it weather the cuts recently announced by the Scottish government.
Responding to Holyrood’s announcement that the grant settlement to Local Authorities will be cut by at least 3.5%, Highland will make a Voluntary Redundancy (VR) scheme available to staff, combined with an option for staff to voluntarily reduce their hours.
The grant makes up 80% of the council’s budget and so they anticipate a gross budget gap of around £40m next year.
The scheme will be open to all staff, except for staff delivering NHS commissioned services.
Leader of the council, Cllr Margaret Davidson said:
‘The Scottish government’s decision puts local authorities in an extremely difficult position. We are already having to deal with the impact of eight years’ of the council tax freeze, and this latest announcement equates to a budget cut of at least a further £16m.
‘We have no alternative but to cut services and to reduce our workforce accordingly. This will undoubtedly impact on performance and staff morale and there is no getting away from that. This is just the first of many unpalatable decisions we will have to make in the coming weeks and I am deeply saddened to see the council forced into this position.’