The Queensferry crossing, all lit up with Saltires.
**press release from the Highland Council SNP group**
As time passes and the Highland Council approach the eleventh hour with regard to the setting of the budget the SNP Group are pleased to acknowledge that the proposed cuts will be nowhere near what was originally proposed by the Independent Group.
Talking about this, Cllr. Maxine Smith, who leads the Opposition and the SNP Group in Highland Council said, “The Scottish Government will be raising money from the highest bandings of Council Tax, in order to assist local authorities in balancing their budgets. This rise by Scottish Government will only affect the very large houses in Highland and there will be mitigation measures for those living alone or people with little income.
Originally it was thought that this £5m, which will be raised would go directly to schools suffering in the educational attainment gap. However, subsequently the Scottish Government decided to fund this initiative separately so the whole £5m will assist Highland Council with balancing its own budget without being ring-fenced. At the full council the Independents formed a last minute motion to write to the Finance Minister, and now they are claiming it was their letter that effected a change of mind in Holyrood. This I found amusing, as I had told them time after time that the money raised by the “Council Tax multiplier” was always going to come back to Highland, but they didn’t listen! Now they see this was in fact correct.
Further to this some of the media releases submitted by the Independent Administration have been less than genuine. They were looking at a budget gap of over £29m just a few weeks ago, but since being given their grant settlement figure, are now only looking at a gap of £22m. They pontificated about the cut from Scottish Government being worse than they were expecting, when the truth of the matter is that the Scottish Government under the current economic situation, have given Councils a good settlement, as best they could and Highland Council are now looking at £7m LESS cuts than they were a few weeks ago. Surely, this is a good news story?”
Every day there are people in our area who face financial difficulty and struggle to put food on the table. These people have no choice but to turn to foodbanks for help, it is an issue present in our own town, although many do not hear or see of it, the fact is the problem exists. Foodbanks rely on the generous donations of others to continue providing for those most in need, it is important to highlight this issue to generate support for those offering help.
Foodbank use is at an all time high, the Trussell trust is a charity that support Foodbanks right across the UK and publish statistics on an annual basis. This charity gave out over 1.1 Million three day emergency food supplies to those in crisis last year, 3,245 of these were in the Highlands. The number of people who are turning to foodbanks are increasing year on year with the most recent figures showing a 2% rise on the previous year. The number one reason for referral to foodbanks are benefit delays followed by those on a low income. In order to receive a food parcel from a foodbank you need to obtain a foodbank voucher, these are available from local community organisations.
The Highland Foodbank is run by Blythswood Care with centres located across Highland including one in Nairn. With Christmas just round the corner this is the time of year where it is tougher for those in a position with little to no money. SNP Nairnshire will be holding another food bank stall to encourage as many donations as possible to the Foodbank ahead of December. The stall will be held on Saturday the 26th at the corner of Leopold Street between 10am and 1pm, much needed items as well as food products include toiletries such as soap, razors and sanitary towels. Money donations are also welcome, everything collected will go directly to Blythswood.
Let’s all do what we can to give those struggling a good christmas this year.