Almost a third of Northumberland's jobs have been furloughed since March

Nearly a third of jobs in Northumberland have been furloughed since March, with 2,400 added to the scheme in July.

By Tony Gillan
Monday, 24th August 2020, 4:49 pm

HM Revenue & Customs figures show around 41,700 claims to furlough were made in the county by the end of July – 31% of all eligible jobs.

This was 2,400 more than at the end of June, but fewer than the 5,500 added the previous month.

During this time the Government paid 80% of employees' wages through Chancellor Rishi Sunak's scheme, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month per employee. Firms unable to operate, or who have no work for their employees because of coronavirus, can furlough.

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Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is being urged to extend the furlough scheme.

Between the Job Retention Scheme launch in March and the end of July, 9.6 million jobs across the UK were furloughed, costing £30.9 billion in claims.

Across the North East, the scheme’s take-up rate is 31%, compared to 32% nationally.

From September the Government's contribution will drop to 70% of wages, with employers having to make up the extra 10%. The scheme is scheduled to end in October. But the IPPR said that would be an "historic mistake" and wants an extension.

Around 10,900 people in Northumberland had applied to the scheme by the end of July – 75% of eligible workers.

Before October 19 they can apply for a second and final grant, worth 70% of profits and capped at £6,570.

Also ending in October is the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which allowed the self-employed to claim 80% of their average monthly profits between March and May, up to £7,500.

Think-tanks the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Resolution Foundation want the Government to extend furlough beyond October, to avoid an unemployment rise.

Carsten Jung, IPPR’s senior economist, said: “The jobs recovery is real, but it looks slow and fragile.

"Even though lockdown has been partially lifted, the economy is still only carefully picking up speed. Reforming and extending the scheme now could prevent jobs losses and boost the economy in this time of need."

A Treasury spokeswoman said: “We’ve been clear that that we can’t sustain this situation indefinitely, but the end of the furlough scheme is not the end of our support for jobs."

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