Furlough wind down continues across Aberdeenshire

Hundreds more workers in Aberdeenshire came off furlough in July – the first month employers had to make a contribution to salaries under the scheme.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 2:14 pm
David Duguid says the furlough scheme has protected vital jobs and livelihoods across his Banff and Buchan constituency.

And David Duguid MP has welcomed the number of employees returning to work, as the UK Government’s furlough scheme continues to wind down.

The Banff and Buchan MP has also praised the number of jobs still being protected by the furlough scheme.

The latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show 5,300 jobs held by workers living in Aberdeenshire were furloughed as of July 31 – five per cent of all that were eligible.

That was 1,100 fewer than the 6,400 furloughed at the end of June.

It was also down by more than two-thirds compared to the 17,100 on the scheme during the 2021 peak in January.

July was the first month that employers had to pay 10 per cent of the salaries of their furloughed workers, giving them an incentive to bring staff back, or end their employment. Employer contributions rose to 20 per cent in August and September, and the scheme is due to finish at the end of this month.

HMRC said the furlough scheme had protected nearly 12 million jobs since it began 18 months ago.

Mr Duguid said: “The UK Government’s furlough scheme has protected vital jobs and livelihoods across Banff and Buchan throughout the pandemic and is continuing to do so.

“With restrictions having eased over the last month, it is welcome to see more employees continuing to return to work across Aberdeenshire thanks to the UK Government’s ambitious plan for Jobs.

“There must continue to be a focus on getting people back into work and accelerating our economic recovery.”

However, there are fears that there could still be “a significant number” of job losses when the UK Government programme ends this month.

The Resolution Foundation says there had been a slowing down in the number of employees coming off the scheme in July, and this meant there was a risk of a fresh rise in unemployment in the autumn.

Charlie McCurdy, economist at the think tank, said: "The number of people coming off furlough over the summer has slowed to a trickle, as some firms and sectors struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity.

“As a result, up to a million employees in the UK could still be on furlough when the scheme closes at the end of this month. While we expect most of these staff to return to their previous roles, a significant number will not."

Following the reopening of indoor hospitality, the accommodation and food services sector continued to see the highest numbers of UK workers coming off furlough in July. In Aberdeenshire, it was the wholesale and retail sector, with the number of furloughed employees falling by 220, and the professional and technical sector which also saw 220 people come off the scheme.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "It’s fantastic to see furlough levels at their lowest since the start of the pandemic."