North Yorkshire County Council has revealed it claimed £3.9million of government cash to furlough its staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
The authority – which is the largest employer in the county – said a total of 1,288 jobs were supported by the scheme which came to an end last Thursday after 18 months.
According to government guidance, public sector organisations were not expected to furlough their workforce and staff whose work was no longer possible had to be considered for redeployment.
However, where councils had arms-length organisations which rely on income and not public money, then furloughing staff was allowed.
A county council spokesperson said: “The county council has claimed furlough payments for staff within its traded services
“Traded services staff are those who work within commercial companies created by the county council, sometimes with partners.
“The furloughed posts would normally be funded by income to these companies, but this stopped, or was greatly reduced during the pandemic.
“These traded services areas include such things as elements of waste management, building design consultancy, commercial property development, and high-speed broadband provision.”
Furlough payments were claimed for school catering staff during lockdown closures, as well as staff in the county council’s outdoor learning service which it said could not operate due to Covid restrictions.
The spokesperson added: “We furloughed 1,288 posts since its introduction, affecting 1,132 individual employees. This figure includes many who rolled on and off furlough and others furloughed only for a short time.
“This has to be seen in the context of a package of government support to deal with the financial impacts of Covid across the council.
“It has, therefore, helped in the council’s response to support business, communities, residents and staff.”