Unemployment concerns as furlough to end

Fears have grown that the decision to end the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – also known as furlough – at the end of the month will cause an economic slowdown and fuel unemployment.

Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley is calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to act quickly and prevent a huge spike in unemployment next month as the number of people coming off furlough slows down.

Data from the Office for National Statistics and HMRC show that the use of the scheme barely changed between the end of July and the middle of August, dropping from 7% of the workforce to 6.3%.

Provisional figures from HMRC published yesterday revealed that, up to 31 July 2021, there were still 2,200 people on furlough in the constituency.

Across, South Lanarkshire, 7,500 people are still on furlough.

In total, 16,900 people in Lanark and Hamilton East have been placed on furlough since the scheme was introduced in March 2020.

Furlough is set to completely come to an end at the end of this month, at the same time as welfare cuts come into force and energy prices rise – all of which will create a perfect storm.

Commenting, Lanark and Hamilton East MP, Angela Crawley said:

“It is utter madness for Rishi Sunak to prematurely end the furlough scheme when more than 2,000 people in Lanark and Hamilton East are still relying on it, as economic growth slows right down, and at the same time as welfare cuts come into play and people face higher energy costs.

“The UK is headed for a perfect storm.

“The government must reverse its decision to end furlough and cut Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,040 a year or it will be responsible for further mass redundancies and unemployment, as well as exacerbating poverty and inequality.

“The UK already has the worst levels of poverty and inequality in the UK – but instead of taking steps to address this, the Tories at Westminster are doubling down and working to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

“The regressive tax hike they are imposing is a clear example of this – it will penalise Scottish families, low and middle income workers, and the young, and force the poorest in society to subsidise the wealthiest.

“Scotland deserves better than this. It is only with independence that we can protect Scotland’s jobs, incomes and economy.”