‘At some point it had to end’: Ministers admit jobs WILL be lost as furlough closes TODAY despite fears a MILLION are still reliant on handouts – but say there is ‘support’ and they should seek ‘new opportunities’
Ministers have admitted jobs will be lost as the Government’s furlough scheme finally ends today after 19 months.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke said the huge bailout – which has cost the taxpayer more than £68billion – ‘has to end at some point’.
And he played down the risk of a deluge of unemployment, insisting there is ‘support’ and people should seek ‘new opportunities’.
The latest figures show that as of July 1.6million jobs were being propped up by furlough, which has been running since March last year. Experts have warned that around a million could still be reliant on the handouts.
At its peak a third of all employees were being paid to stay at home in an unprecedented government move.
But it is due to come to an end alongside some other support measures from midnight.
The latest figures showed 1.6million jobs were still being propped up by the furlough scheme at the end of July
Chief Secretary Simon Clarke said the huge bailout – which has cost the taxpayer more than £68billion – ‘has to end at some point’
In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Clarke said that job losses were ‘part of the process’ of recovery from the pandemic.
‘Obviously there will be a variety of outcomes, I don’t have an estimate with me today. There will be some job losses,’ he told Sky News.
‘Furlough has protected 11.6million jobs in total … at some point you have to end these emergency measures.
‘People’s jobs will be created just as some have very sadly been lost, that is part of the process of ending this crisis and going back to normal.’
Mr Clarke said: ‘There is a lot of opportunity out there for people now. There’s never an easy moment to end these measures.
‘They’ve been hugely important but it is also time to recognise that we are now, thankfully, out of the teeth of this pandemic … and we’re in a situation where normal opportunity is back out there for people to embrace.’
He added there would be a ‘range’ of options for those who would find themselves without work and that the unemployment rate had fallen seven months in a row.
‘We never said we could protect every job … I think we need to be totally honest about this, the Covid pandemic has taken a toll on our economy, it’s changed some things,’ he said.
‘My message to people would be there are these opportunities there.’
Furlough numbers dipped by 340,000 by the end of July – the first month that employers had to pay 10 per cent of the salaries.
But experts have warned that only a ‘trickle’ are being taken off furlough and a million could still be reliant on the bailout.
HM Revenue & Customs figures showed 121,600 people between the ages of 18 and 34 were taken off the furlough scheme in June and July.
Furlough launched in the early days of the pandemic as a way of ensuring that people could keep their jobs, and a portion of their income, even when the economy closed down.
For those who were unable to work from home, the scheme would pay them up to 80 per cent of their salaries.
However from the beginning of July employers had to contribute 10 per cent of their furloughed employees’ salaries. This went up again to 20 per cent for August and September.
Since launching 18 months ago, close to 12million jobs have been furloughed. The Government has paid a total of £68.5billion to furloughed employees.
Furlough levels remained the higher in London on July 31 than in other parts of the country, especially for men.
Eight London areas were among those with the highest furlough rates, at 9 per cent to 10 per cent.
Concerns have been raised about the number of workers over the age of 50 who are still furloughed.
More than 540,000 people in the age group were on furlough at the end of July, accounting for 35 per cent of the total, according to research.
Rest Less, which offers help and advice for older people, said the pandemic had ‘devastated’ the job market for older workers over the past two years.
Founder Stuart Lewis said the full impact might still to be felt, adding: ‘With more than half a million people aged 50 or older still on furlough at the last count, we may well see hundreds of thousands of hardworking, experienced older workers enter redundancy and, ultimately, find themselves looking for a new job in the run-up to Christmas.
‘The jobs market is polarised at the moment. On the one hand, we have record job vacancies and companies struggling to hire talent in key areas, for example HGV drivers and healthcare.
‘On the other side, unemployment levels across many age groups have yet to recover and we are seeing huge falls in economic activity amongst midlifers.
‘Much more can be done to help bridge these gaps through intensive retraining and accelerated assessment programmes.’
Rest Less said its research suggested long-term trends of employment growth among the over-50s has been reversed over the past two years.
Workers describe the ’emptiness’ and ‘lack of purpose’ of being on furlough for up to 19 months – but how they used the time to start businesses and learn new skills
Charlotte Daniel, 28, has started learning Spanish and launched a business with her partner while on furlough
Charlotte Daniel 28, data analyst for villa holiday company, Canterbury
Charlotte Daniel spent the majority of the past 18 months on furlough, and says it has been a mixture of emotions.
The 28-year-old data analyst described feeling ’emptiness, lack of purpose, loneliness’ and a ‘desire for progression’.
‘A year-and-a-half without career development at my age is hard,’ she told the Guardian.
Ms Daniel, from Canterbury, returned to work when she was offered a secondment but said it was a ‘massive shock to the system’ – particularly as she had to work 12 hours per day at home with ‘terrible wifi’.
She said she chose to go back on furlough – during which time she has picked up Spanish and bikini bodybuilding, which she now trains for five times a week.
Her and her partner have also managed to launch a sportswear brand for women and bought their first house together.
She added: ‘It’s been a mad 18 months but I’ve made the most of being furloughed.
‘Now I’m really looking forward to going back to my role next month and seeing my colleagues.’
Peter Advertisement 39, events administrator, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
Peter has been furloughed for 18 months and says he has had nothing to do since his job entails putting on concerts.
The 39-year-old said he has been lucky as the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester has been topping up his wages during that time.
He said: ‘But my mental health suffered significantly, I was under the constant stress of thinking my job could be discontinued at any moment…
‘The only saving grace for me was that my first child was born at the beginning of the year.
‘I’ve bonded with him far more than if I’d only seen him at bedtime, and my partner and I have shared childcare. For that, I’ve been incredibly fortunate.’
Peter returned to his full time job this month with a hybrid deal of working from home and at the office – and with concerts scheduled for the autumn, things are looking up.
John Cooper, 45, operations manager for a sports complex, East Sussex
For John Cooper, 45, who was furloughed in March 2020, the experience has been an ‘eye-opener’ and taught him the value of family.
He took up a second job stacking supermarket shelves from 9pm to 1am, three times a week.
‘It was a godsend for my mental health,’ he said, ‘With the 80% salary from my normal job, it meant we were slightly better off in terms of household income.’
The operations manager was able to take up golf again after 20 years and he and his family moved out of town.
He added: ‘I play golf four or five times a week, I’ve made new friends and I’ve lost weight. I’m now free of debt for the first time in my life.
‘The pace of life has slowed down, and I’ve realised you don’t have to be chasing things and doing things all the time.’
He has agreed to return to his original job on a part-time basis and will keep his supermarket job – meaning a 43-hour work week in total.
Source: The Guardian