£10m investment proposed in sustainable Highland Council budget plan

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The Highland Council is to consider £10m additional investment in 2022-23 as part of its ambitious Health and Prosperity Strategy for the Highlands.

The proposals will be put forward at the council’s budget setting meeting today (March 3).

The strategy builds on the Health and Prosperity Strategy developed in 2021, which seeks to balance the current financial pressures with the drivers for economic growth and recovery from the pandemic.

The strategy has at its heart investment in the Highland economy and securing medium term financial sustainability for the council.

In-year financial prudence and building reserves has enabled the council to be in a position to invest in the Highlands while balancing the budget and addressing the challenges and risks moving forward.

The proposed collaborative budget plans encompass investment totalling £10m.

This is made up of £5.5m additional investment in the roads infrastructure, £2m for climate action, green energy and jobs, £1m for innovation in education, £1m for early interventions in children’s services and £0.5m boost for rural transport initiatives.

Council leader Councillor Margaret Davidson welcomed the collaborative work which has resulted in the proposals.

She said: ‘The additional £5.5m we are proposing to put into roads alone will result in a considerable investment of £31m in our road network over a three-year period.

‘This will be really good news for people across the Highlands.

‘I am delighted that we have reached a balanced budget position and have a very positive set of proposals through discussion and collaboration with our colleagues and partners.

‘I would like to thank the tireless work of officers and staff in helping us to achieve these investment levels and close the budget gap with a range of efficiency and management savings.

‘It has been a tremendous feat to get to this stage and I am proud to present such a set of budget proposals despite tremendous challenges.’

Leader of the opposition Councillor Raymond Bremner added: ‘Our communities across the Highlands have been faced with challenging, unprecedented times over the past couple of years, with considerable uncertainty in respect of what lies ahead, especially with continual inflationary pressures.

‘The council needs to continue its path of redesign and transformation in order to be sustainable into the future.

‘How we use our assets and resources and work with partners and communities, over the coming years, is crucial to achieving climate change targets, efficiencies and a brighter future for the Highlands.’