Speaking at Highland Council’s Corporate Resources Committee on 24 May 2018, Budget Leader Cllr Alister Mackinnon said that the Council’s reported overspend showed the extent to which successive budget reductions and council tax freezes meant the authority had no wriggle room to manage significant pressures in demand-led services like supporting children with additional support needs. He said:
“We have done everything we can to protect front line services and particularly services to children and young people. That is why our focus has been on finding ways to increase income, such as car parking, or ways to reduce expenditure in areas where we have no statutory responsibility.
"I know not everyone supports these measures, but today’s report should leave no one in any doubt that we have to deliver these commitments and also look for additional ways in which we can meet current and future budget challenges.
"Personally, I see no prospect of the budget situation improving and I fear there are even tougher decisions ahead of us and we all have to acknowledge that.”
The Council’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Corporate Resources, Derek Yule said that "...it was very rare for the Council to return an overspend." He said that the Council’s elected members should see this as a “wake up call and recognise the need to make tough decisions about where to cut services... and to stick by those decisions.”