Fears for region's workforce as tens of thousands remain on furlough

More than 58,000 people remained on furlough in the region at the end of June despite almost 13,000 coming off the job support lifeline.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak
Chancellor Rishi Sunak

The figures were revealed as as a think tank warned the reliance on furlough is still a “cause for concern” and said it is “vital” people return to work soon.

Charlie McCurdy, economist at the Resolution Foundation, 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.”

Government data showed 58,300 people were on the scheme across the Black Country and Staffordshire as of June 30, down from 71,200 at the end of May – a decrease of 12,900.

Neil Anderson, director of external affairs at the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said: “As the scheme fades away, we will likely see individuals being released into the labour market as businesses struggle to recover or are forced to make redundancies.

It is crucial employers and the Government provides them with the support they need to retrain in order to become re-engaged within workplaces.”

Across the region

HM Revenue and Customs figures show 6,900 people in Wolverhampton were furloughed - 1,200 fewer than the 8,100 at the end of May. It represented six per cent of all that were eligible for the scheme.

And in Sandwell the figure was 9,700, which represents seven per cent of people who were eligible - down 1,900 from 11,600.

In Walsall, the sum was 8,000 – seven per cent of all those eligible – down 1,400 from 9,400.

And in Dudley, 8,500 people were furloughed – six per cent of those eligible – down 1,700 from 10,200.

Meanwhile, in Staffordshire, 22,200 people were on furlough at the end of June – six per cent of all those eligible – which was down 6,000 compared to 28,200 the month before.

And in South Staffordshire a total of 3,000 people were on the scheme – seven per cent of those eligible – which was 700 fewer than the 3,700 furloughed at the end of May.

The workers in the region who came off the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme were among 590,000 people removed from the scheme across the UK, with 1.9 million still on the scheme which is the lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

The number of people on furlough has been dropping since January when more than five million workers were stuck at home. But things improved with the lifting of lockdown restrictions, which had prevented businesses from trading normally, or even opening at all.

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."

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