Cuts watch: Highlands and Islands


The consequences of cutting the UK's budget deficit are expected to be felt at every level of the public sector, including the services performed by Scotland's 32 councils.

BBC Scotland's news website asked local authorities in the Highlands and Islands region how they thought they might be affected. Check out what they had to say.


Size: The population of the council area stood at 26,180 in 2009. The authority employs 2,569 people.

Budget: £124m for 2010-11.

Funding fall: The council is aiming to achieve £24m savings.

Options for savings: Redundancies and not filling vacancies have been suggested by officials as ways of helping Western Isles Council to achieve its savings target.

Cleansing department staff have been offered redundancy while posts left by retiring teachers may not be filled.

The council is also looking at its schools and considering closures which could result in £2m in savings.

Some £11m of cuts have been identified for 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The authority is in the process of consulting households to find out what people think about council issues, including budget cuts.

In September last year Western Isles Council admitted that an increasingly ageing population put a huge pressure on its council's "scarce resources".

At the beginning of the summer, some staff at Western Isles Council were asked to work fewer hours to help the authority save millions of pounds.

Half of what comhairle spends each year goes on its workforce.

The authority faces a funding gap of £5.5m in 2011-12. It said £2m would be sought through efficiency savings and £3.5m through service cuts.


Size: The population of the Highland Council area stood at 220,500 in 2009. The authority supports 9,550 full time equivalent posts.

Budget: £604m in 2010-11.

Funding fall: Aiming to make further savings of £36m in the next two to three years.

Options for savings: A budget consultation is currently on-going, but options include looking at the future of libraries and museums and community centres.

Other areas, such as possible cuts in the winter maintenance allowance and an increase in charges for council-run services are a matter for the consultation.

In September the council suggested dimming lights, turning off every second street lamp or switching off all lights between midnight and 0600 BST.

The authority operates about 48,000 lamps, which generate an annual electricity bill of more than £1.7m for the region.

It has also proposed making it a requirement that only new developments with more than 15 properties have street lighting.

The latest Highland Council workers' survey, published at the beginning of the summer, revealed that council staff felt anxious about their job security because of planned cuts in public sector funding.

In June, BBC Scotland news asked Scotland's 32 councils 11 questions ranging from how many staff they employed to whether they had to close schools and libraries due to spending cuts. About two-thirds responded over the following months. Of those that did not, a number explained they could not answer the questions until a fuller picture of budgets was known.