AS West Dunbartonshire Council looks to furlough staff, a trade union has said the scheme cannot be a “waiting room for redundancies”.

Unison announced that the local authority applied to the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme to fund staff members last week.

Johanna Baxter, Unison Scotland’s head of local government, said: “The fact that Scottish councils are having to apply for funding from the Westminster furlough scheme is a damning indictment of the Scottish Government’s under-funding of local government and demonstrates how cash-strapped they are.

“The Scottish Government needs to address the shortfall in local government finance as a matter of urgency to protect jobs and services going forward. UNISON is absolutely clear that furlough cannot be a waiting room for redundancies.”

“Council services are needed more than ever, and council staff have been heroic during Covid-19 pandemic caring for our most vulnerable people, looking after the children of key workers, housing rough sleepers and collecting our refuse. Investment in public services is the lesson of this pandemic.”

Councillor John Mooney said the move demonstrates how much councils have been starved of cash by the Scottish Government.

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He added: “West Dunbartonshire Council has a policy of no compulsory redundancies, and Labour is determined to retain that.

“I have already pointed out the terrible effect of starving our deprived communities of resources for the last 13 years by this Scottish Government.”

A council spokeswoman told the Post that the council was consulting with trade unions in exploring the possibility of furloughing staff members as part of a range of measures to aide recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We welcome the support the Job Retention Scheme has given to employers and their employees, and the scheme’s extension to October.

“However, as the UK Government moves to phase out the schemes, it is important there is continuing recognition that public health guidance is devolved, and so progress in exiting lockdown may be different in each nation.

“We have been working closely with COSLA and local governments since the beginning of the pandemic and have committed over £300 million of additional funding for Covid-19 measures, on top of the local government finance settlement of £11.4 billion from this year’s budget.

“We are also front loading the normal weekly grant payments by £300 million to ease local authorities’ cash flow problems.”