Local MSP Jackie Baillie and Labour councillors in West Dunbartonshire have called on the Scottish Government to guarantee the future of council jobs and services which depend on funding from the European Union.
A report laid before West Dunbartonshire Council’s Housing and Communities Committee on 7 June 2017 revealed that there is no back-up plan to replace the funding for employability services after the UK leaves the European Union.
The Council’s Working 4U service which brings together employment support and training, benefits and debt advice, and adult learning is part-funded by the European Social Fund. Launched under the previous Labour administration, the report states that the new service has been successful in helping over 1000 local people get into work, education or training.
The programme has an approximate collective value of £5.6 million and council officials are worried about the impact of Brexit on staff roles which are funded by Europe. The report states that the Council will ‘review existing funded roles’ due to the uncertainty. This could result in fewer jobs and a reduction in services unless the Scottish Government takes action to provide guarantees for the future.
“The continued uncertainty over the future of European funding puts local jobs and services for unemployed people at risk. West Dunbartonshire Council needs to start planning for the future now but there is still no way of knowing whether these funding sources will be replaced after Brexit.
“We need long-term certainty to protect jobs and council services in West Dunbartonshire after we lose access to European funding. It is clear that the Tories can’t be trusted to prioritise deprived communities like West Dunbartonshire so I hope the Scottish Government will step up to guarantee the funding our council needs.”
Cllr Martin Rooney, Leader of the Opposition, said:
“The pioneering Working4U service was one of the greatest success stories of the previous Labour administration and it has been a key driver behind our anti-poverty strategy in West Dunbartonshire.
“This service would not have been able to help over 1000 local people into work without the substantial funding we secured from the European Social Fund. Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Clydebank face significant challenges with regard to unemployment so it is vital that the Scottish Government works with West Dunbartonshire Council to offer certainty for the future of Working4U