Highlands & Islands

Future budgets 'not bright' warns Highland councillor

Money
Image caption Mr Alston said the council had created a legacy of "prudent budget management"

A senior Highland councillor has warned that his local authority faces making £54m in cuts between 2013 and 2015.

Highland Council's budget leader David Alston warned that the future picture was "not so bright" after balancing its books for its 2012/13 budget.

Mr Alston said no further cuts would be required ahead of setting that budget in February next year.

However, he warned £27m in savings would have to be found in both the 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years.

Highland Council identified £20.4m in cuts earlier this year, which Mr Alston said was sufficient for 2012/13.

In that financial year, the local authority expects to spend £600m on services and have £75m available for buildings schools, roads, flood prevention and caring for older people.

Mr Alston said: "We have planned ahead, made the difficult decisions well in advance, so when we meet in February to confirm the budget we will have no further cuts to find.

"This demonstrates the value of three-year budgeting and asking the public for their views on proposed savings.

"I am also pleased that we will be able to maintain our capital programme at its current level. This is good news for local contractors and the general economy of the Highlands."

He said the current administration would leave a legacy of "prudent budget management" for the one that would be formed following local authority elections next May.

But he warned the new administration faced a future that was "not so bright" because of issues such as pay and price inflation and other budget pressures.

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