Over 1 Million U.K. Jobs Furloughed in Final Month of Program
The U.K. had more than a million people on furlough in the final month of the government program that paid the wages of those whose workplaces were closed during the pandemic.
The Office for National Statistics estimated that 5.3% of the business workforce was receiving the benefit in early September, the equivalent of 1.1 million to 1.6 million people. Separate figures from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the U.K. tax authority, put the figure at 1.32 million at the end of August.
There were just 263,300 fewer jobs furloughed than at the end of July, according to the HMRC figures, which showed the scale of the workforce depending on the program as it prepared to wind down. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak ended furlough payments on Sept. 30, and the Bank of England is watching carefully to see how many of those people end up unemployed.
Insolvency Service data published this week suggest any rise in unemployment may be limited, however. Employers planned 13,836 job cuts in September, barely more than the 12,687 cuts proposed in August, which was the lowest for seven years.
Employers planning to make 20 or more staff redundant have to notify the Insolvency Service when they start the process.
The retail and hospitality industries continued to have the highest number of jobs on furlough, despite a further decline in August. Many of these are in London and the southeast.
The proportion of jobs reliant on government subsidies was highest in the passenger air transport sector at travel agencies, where take-up rates were above 40% on average.
In a further demonstration of the pandemic’s impact on international travel, six of the 10 local authorities that had the highest proportion of eligible jobs on furlough in August were near major airports. They are Hounslow, Ealing and Hillingdon near Heathrow Airport; Newham and Redbridge near London City Airport; and Crawley near Gatwick Airport.
Story Link: U.K. Business Workforce on Furlough Est. at 5% Early Sept.: ONS
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.