30% of UK workers on furlough as redundancy fears mount

Mark Shapland

Close to nine million workers have been placed on furlough as part of the Government’s job retention scheme, according to fresh Government data.

Around £17.5 billion has been claimed by 1.1 million employers to furlough their staff.

Businesses have placed 8.7 million workers on the Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme as of Sunday, HMRC said. Last week the figure stood at 8.4 million.

In March, the Government promised to pay 80% of the salaries of workers sent home because they could no longer do their jobs with public health restrictions in place.

The jobs retention scheme was designed to allow companies to keep staff on the payroll.

However, experts worry that the scheme may simply be disguising massive unemployment, with sweeping layoffs potentially on the cards after it ends.

Last week companies were told they would have to start contributing some of the pay given to employees, to slowly start weaning the economy off Government support.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that businesses would have to bear some of the costs and start paying National Insurance contributions from August.

Staff will be able to return to work part-time without losing any furlough pay from next month, the Chancellor also said.

Sunak said: “We stood behind Britain’s businesses and workers as we came into this crisis, and we stand behind them as we come through the other side.

“Now, as we begin to re-open our country and kick-start our economy, these schemes will adjust to ensure those who are able to work can do so, while remaining amongst the most generous in the world.”

New figures on Tuesday also revealed that 2.5 million claims totalling £7.2 billion have been made under the Government scheme to support self-employed people.

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