Almost 2million still on furlough as scheme set to end in three weeks

MILLIONS of workers are still on furlough with the job support scheme set to end this month.

The number of Brits receiving furlough payments has dropped to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic but £1.6million are still getting support and have not returned to their permanent jobs.

The furlough scheme was launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the start of the pandemic last year to limit job losses as many businesses were forced to close temporarily or operate with restrictions.

It supported millions of workers to keep their jobs during the pandemic by paying them 80% of their wages – up to £2,500 a month.

This was initially fully covered by the Government but companies had to start contributing 10% in July and 20% in August.

The scheme will end in October despite calls for it to be extended.

The number of workers on furlough passed nine million at the height of the pandemic last year but has now dropped from almost two million to £1.6m between June and July.

But Government figures show 25% of employers still had staff on furlough at the end of July and there are fears of a "jobs mismatch" due to a lack of vacancies in sector's with the highest number of furloughed staff.

If all these staff lose their jobs then they may not find an equivalent role and could be left unemployed.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has forecast that the end of the furlough scheme and lack of suitable jobs could push the UK unemployment rate up from 4.8% to 5.4% by the end of this year.

Jobs mismatch warning

Analysis of the Government furlough data by The Sun shows some of the sectors with the largest number of staff on furlough don't have enough vacancies if all these jobs are lost.

For example, there were 259,100 furloughed staff in the accommodation and food services sector as of the end of July.

But Office for National Statistics vacancy figures show there were just 117,000 jobs advertised in this sector between May and July 2021.

Similarly, the car repairs sector has 224,500 staff on furlough but just 124,000 vacancies if none of these people get their current jobs back.

There are 161,500 furloughed staff in administration and support services and 155,900 in manufacturing but just 67,000 and 68,000 jobs advertised respectively.

The government data also shows that 9.9 million claims have been made for self-employed grants and more than £27 billion has been paid out.

Testing times for older workers, men and travel staff

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst for Hargreaves Lansdown, said the end of furlough could hit older workers the hardest and those in the travel sector where around half of roles are currently furloughed.

She said: "The end of the scheme poses a particular risk for older people, because once out of work, they tend to find it much harder to re-enter the workforce.

"This is due in part to the fact that the older we get, the less often we tend to switch jobs, so we’re less used to the rigmarole involved in finding work.

"There’s a risk many of this group will be forced into retirement, before either they or their finances are ready for it."

She also highlighted that there are higher numbers of men on furlough, at 973,000 compared with 885,000 women.

Ms Coles added: "Men are also struggling to get off the scheme and back into work. The number of men on furlough overtook women in May, when women in particular returned to hospitality roles."

She warned that changing industry is not a straightforward business as they may require completely different skills.

Ms Coles added: "Take the car repairs industry for example, if you’re a qualified mechanic who loses work and can’t find another role in the industry, there are few alternative industries that will value your skills.

"It means either retraining or accepting a lower income."

We have rounded up your rights if you are made redundant once furlough ends.

Your household costs could also increase due to a £20 a week cut to Universal Credit this month and a rise in energy bills going this winter.

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