Thousands of Shropshire workers still furloughed as employers start paying costs too

More than 11,000 workers in the county were still furloughed at the end of June according to government figures.

The number of people on furlough at the end of June in the county was
The number of people on furlough at the end of June in the county was

The numbers, which are the most up-to-date available, show the impact of the pandemic and lockdown retrictions has continued to have a major impact on the county's economy.

It comes as this week has seen the start of a change where firms have to pay 20 per cent of the costs of an employee's furlough pay, up from 10 per cent last month. The scheme closes in September.

The data shows as of June 30 there were still 11,500 people on furlough in Shropshire – 7,500 in the Shropshire Council area and 4,000 in the Telford & Wrekin Council catchment.

There were also 2,800 workers on Furlough in Powys.

The number does represent a major drop on January, when there were 30,700 furloughed across Shropshire – 20,400 in the Shropshire Council area and 10,300 within the Telford & Wrekin Council boundary. In Powys there were 7,100 people on the support scheme.

In Shropshire the figure for June had fallen by 2,400 from 9,900 at the end of May – following a pattern of decline since January.

In Telford & Wrekin it was 1,300 fewer than the 5,300 furloughed in May, with Powys dropping by 1,100 fewer than the 3,900 on May.

They were among 590,000 people removed from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme across the UK.

The number of workers still furloughed fell to 1.9 million in June – the lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

June’s numbers are the last before the scheme started to shift more of the burden from the Treasury to companies.

Despite the number of people on the scheme falling below two million for the first time, the Resolution Foundation said that the economy's reliance on furlough was still a "cause for concern".

Charlie McCurdy, economist at the think-tank, said: “With employer contributions to furloughed staff doubling, and the scheme ending completely in just two months’ time, it’s vital that as many furloughed staff as possible return to work soon, in order to limit the rise in unemployment this autumn.”

The number of people on furlough has been dropping since January when 5.1 million workers were stuck at home.

They were guaranteed 80 per cent of their salaries – to a limit of £2,500 – from the Government scheme.

But things improved with the lifting of lockdown restrictions, which had prevented businesses from trading normally, or even opening at all.

Following the reopening of indoor hospitality in May, the accommodation and food services sector saw the highest numbers of UK workers coming off furlough in June.

This was also the case in Shropshire, with the number of furloughed hospitality employees falling by 1,300, from 2,580 to 1,280 – for Telford & Wrekin it dropped by 570, from 1,140 to 570, and in Powys by 670, from 1,160 to 490.

This was followed by the retail sector, which saw 230 people come off the scheme in Shropshire and 220 in Telford & Wrekin.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “It’s fantastic to see businesses across the UK open, employees returning to work and the numbers of furloughed jobs falling to their lowest levels since the scheme began.

“I’m proud our plan for jobs is working and our support will continue in the months ahead.”

Young people have been the most likely to be on furlough throughout much of the pandemic, but this changed in June when they moved off the scheme twice as fast as all other age brackets.

In total, 600,000 under-25s across the UK were either brought back to work or made redundant.

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