Fears for jobs of thousands of Preston workers still furloughed

The latest figures on the number of people still on furlough show that hundreds in Preston came off the pandemic support scheme in July – the first month employers had to make a contribution to salaries under the scheme.

By Tim Gavell
Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 3:30 pm

But with 1.6 million UK workers still on furlough at the end of July, think tank the Resolution Foundation is concerned that “a significant number” to lose their jobs when the programme ends this month.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the latest figure – a 340,000 reduction from June 30 and the lowest since the start of the pandemic – was a sign of the country getting back to business.

The latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs show 3,000 jobs held by workers living in Preston were furloughed as of July 31 – 5 per cent of all that were eligible.

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While shoppers returned to the streets and hospitality venues reopened, many workers were still on furlough

That was 600 fewer than the 3,600 furloughed at the end of June.

It was also down by nearly two-thirds compared to the 8,600 on the scheme during the 2021 peak in January.

An age breakdown for those on furlough across local authority areas has also been published for the first time.

In Preston, people aged between 35 and 39 made up the highest proportion of those on furlough with 400 (13 per cent) on the scheme.

Meanwhile, people aged 65 and over accounted for the smallest proportion – 120 (4 per cent).

In Preston, the wholesale and retail sector saw the number of furloughed employees falling by 150. It was followed by the hospitality sector which saw 120 people come off the scheme.

July was the first month that employers had to pay 10 per cent of the salaries of their furloughed workers. Employer contributions rose to 20 per cent in August and September. HMRC said the furlough scheme had protected nearly 12 million jobs since it began 18 months ago.

Charlie McCurdy, economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: "The number of people coming off furlough over the summer has slowed to a trickle, as some firms and sectors struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity.

“As a result, up to a million employees could still be on furlough when the scheme closes at the end of this month.

“While we expect most of these staff to return to their previous roles, a significant number will not."