34,000 jobs furloughed in Northumberland as figures reveal extent of impact on county's workers

Almost 34,000 jobs in Northumberland have been furloughed since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

Friday, 12th June 2020, 12:36 pm
Updated Friday, 12th June 2020, 12:37 pm
File picture from PA

Government statistics released on Thursday, June 11 show that the the total number of employments furloughed in the county, from the start of the scheme up to the end of May, is 33,800.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was announced by the Government on March 20 to support employers who have been unable to undertake their normal activities through the Covid-19 period, with furloughed employees paid up to 80% of their salaries ( up to a maximum of £2,500 per month).

Northumberland’s total is the second highest figure in the North East, behind County Durham’s 55,800, but the statistics are consistent with the relative populations in the different local-authority areas.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Within the county, the furloughed jobs are split fairly evenly between the four parliamentary constituencies: 8,600 in Berwick-upon-Tweed; 9,300 in Blyth Valley; 7,800 in Hexham; 8,100 in Wansbeck.

Assuming one furloughed employment per person, the Northumberland rate represents more than 10% of the overall population and around 15% of the economically active population – this appears to be roughly in line with other parts of the region.

Across the North East, a total of 282,500 employments have been furloughed – the lowest number of any UK region apart from Northern Ireland – from a total of 6.45million in England and 8.7million across the UK.

Northumberland County Council’s leader, Coun Peter Jackson, said: “The economy and employment in Northumberland are top priorities for the council and we are doing everything that we can to support businesses through this crisis and beyond.

“We moved quickly to deliver vital funds, have already paid out more than £85million to more than 7,500 businesses, and secured an additional £4.6million for businesses most impacted.

“We also put in place new support arrangements and packages for businesses to help them with things like moving more trading online, where this is possible.

“Our ambitious plans for economic growth will be even more important as we move through recovery, and we are well underway with development of a recovery plan for Northumberland.

“In the meantime, the furlough scheme, and other national schemes, are there to protect as many jobs as possible. This Government scheme has been instrumental in helping many businesses maintain jobs through the crisis which no one could have imagined just 12 weeks ago.”

The furlough figures came ahead of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealing today (Friday, June 11) that the UK’s economy shrank by 20.4% in April, a GDP fall three times greater than that experienced during the 2008-9 economic crisis. The quarterly GDP drop for the period from February to April was 10.4%.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “April’s fall in GDP is the biggest the UK has ever seen, more than three times larger than last month and almost ten times larger than the steepest pre-Covid-19 fall. In April, the economy was around 25% smaller than in February.

“Virtually all areas of the economy were hit, with pubs, education, health and car sales all giving the biggest contributions to this historic fall.

“Manufacturing and construction also saw significant falls, with manufacture of cars and housebuilding particularly badly affected.

“The UK’s trade with the rest of the world was also badly affected by the pandemic, with large falls in both the import and export of cars, fuels, works of art and clothing.”