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Nearly 35,000 workers in Scotland removed from furlough scheme

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  • Nearly 35,000 workers in Scotland removed from furlough scheme
Nearly 35,000 people in Scotland were removed from the UK government’s furlough programme in June, official HMRC figures show.
A total of 141,500 remained on the job retention scheme – which was down from 175,300 at the end of May.
Furlough will be wound down further from Sunday as the UK government asks employers to make a bigger contribution to the wage support scheme.
The Treasury said 900,000 Scots were furloughed during the pandemic.
It added that more than 90,000 businesses had received loans and just over £1.5bn had been paid in self-employment support.
Across the UK, an estimated 1.3 million people were on the scheme at the beginning of July, down from a peak of 5.1 million at the height of lockdown in January.The scheme has been extended several times but will end on 30 September.
It has been credited with stopping a spike in unemployment – although some fear jobs will be lost when it ends – and has so far cost UK taxpayers almost £50bn.Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the fall in the number of people still on furlough showed that the UK government’s plan for saving jobs was working.
He said unemployment in the UK was lower than in many other European countries, and was now expected to peak at about 6% rather than the 12% that had been predicted at the start of the pandemic.
Mr Sunak, who is on a two-day visit to Scotland, said that one in three jobs north of the border had been supported by furlough at the height of the scheme.
He added: “Everywhere I’ve been today I have been hearing how people are coming back from furlough into work.

“Companies are hiring again, looking forward to growing, and that all tells me our plan for jobs is working.”

The top five industry groups with the highest rates of jobs being put on furlough at 31 May 2021:

  • Air passenger transport (57%)
  • Hotels and similar accommodation (57%)
  • Travel agency and tour operator activities (51%)
  • Photographic activities (43%)
  • Beverage serving activities (43%)

The UK government has largely footed the bill for furloughed workers, but since 1 July employers have been asked to contribute 10% towards the wages of furloughed workers for hours their staff do not work.

That amount will rise to to 20% in August and September.

It will make the scheme less appealing to employers, although firms are relying on it less as the economy reopens.

The SNP has been calling for furlough support to again be extended, with the party’s Treasury spokeswoman, Alison Thewliss, calling on Mr Sunak “to apologise to the people and businesses here for withdrawing furlough support prematurely and risking thousands of unnecessary redundancies”.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has called for a halt to the “tapering” of the furlough scheme until all Covid restrictions are lifted.

Spokesman John Erskine said: “There are huge sections of our economy and thousands of employees across Scotland who are still unable to return to work.

“The doubling of furlough contribution for employers at this time is not the right thing to do and that’s what is going to put those jobs at risk.”