Council

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council job fears remain

Antrim and Newtownabbey council
Michelle Weir

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has said that it will “continue to plan for urgent action” to ensure the provision of essential services amid “serious concerns about ongoing financial sustainability”.

The council has decided to temporarily defer a proposal to release 46 short service staff but says that it may have to review the situation again within the next two weeks.

Initially, the local authority announced that it was to shed 73 short service and agency staff.

While the council has welcomed an announcement by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA that council workers can apply for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), it has reiterated that it will “continue to plan for the urgent action it may need to take in order to ensure that it can continue to provide essential services”.

A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “The Council has considered the Minister’s recent statement and welcomes her acknowledgement of the Council’s serious concerns about our ongoing financial sustainability.

“Until confirmation is received in relation to any financial support available, including the extent to which the Council can access the Job Retention Scheme, it will continue to plan for the urgent action it may need to take in order to ensure that we can continue to provide essential services.

“The council may consider the position again within the next two weeks, should sufficient clarification not be available to ensure that it meets its legal responsibility to avoid insolvency and maintain an adequate level of reserves.”

The Communities Minister said: “Officials in my Department have been working with councils, to understand the extent to which councils can manage the COVID-19 situation by making use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

“As a result of this work and discussions with the Department of Finance, I can confirm that councils are eligible to apply to furlough staff through the CJRS.

“My priority has been to ensure that the rights of workers are respected and to protect jobs.

“This is a very difficult time for everybody.  Our 11 councils provide very important functions and services, continuing to do so during this emergency  and looking ahead, councils need to be ready to play their part in the economic recovery.

“I am pleased to be able to provide clarity about this issue and most importantly to ensure that council workers jobs are protected.”

 

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