Around 2,000 more Falkirk and West Lothian workers came off furlough in June

Over 2,000 more workers in the West Lothian and Falkrik council areas came off furlough in June, ahead of a reduction in Government support for wages.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 5:00 am
The Resolution Foundation said it is vital that as many furloughed staff as possible return to work soon, to limit the rise in unemployment after the scheme ends. Photo PA.

The latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs show that 4,300 jobs held by workers living in West Lothian were furloughed as of June 30 – five per cent of all that were eligible. That was 1,200 fewer than the 5,500 furloughed at the end of May.

While, 3,500 jobs held by workers living in Falkirk were furloughed as of June 30 – five per cent of all that were eligible. That was 1,000 fewer than the 4,500 furloughed at the end of May.

They were among 590,000 people removed from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme across the UK. The number of workers still furloughed fell to 1.9 million in June – the lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

June’s numbers are the last before the scheme started to shift more of the burden from the Treasury to companies. In July, employers had to pick up 10 per cent of their employees’ salaries, while Government support dropped from 80 per cent to 70 per cent.

Employers now cover 20 per cent of the furlough pay until the scheme comes to a close at the end of September.

The number of people on furlough has been dropping since January when 5.1 million workers were stuck at home.

They were guaranteed 80 per cent of their salaries – to a limit of £2,500 – from the Government scheme.

But things improved with the lifting of lockdown restrictions, which had prevented businesses from trading normally, or even opening at all.

Following the reopening of indoor hospitality in May, the accommodation and food services sector saw the highest numbers of West Lothian workers coming off furlough in June, with the number of furloughed hospitality employees falling by 390, from 1,130 to 740.

This was followed by the retail sector, which saw 290 people come off the scheme, and the construction industry (80).

This was also the case in Falkirk, with the number of furloughed hospitality employees falling by 320, from 990 to 670.

This was followed by the arts sector, which saw 130 people come off the scheme, and the retail industry (120).

Despite the number of people on the scheme falling below 2 million for the first time, the Resolution Foundation said that the economy's reliance on furlough was still a "cause for concern".

Charlie McCurdy, economist at the think-tank, said: “With employer contributions to furloughed staff doubling, and the scheme ending completely in just two months’ time, it’s vital that as many furloughed staff as possible return to work soon, in order to limit the rise in unemployment this autumn.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “It’s fantastic to see businesses across the UK open, employees returning to work and the numbers of furloughed jobs falling to their lowest levels since the scheme began.

“I’m proud our plan for jobs is working and our support will continue in the months ahead.”

Young people have been the most likely to be on furlough throughout much of the pandemic, but this changed in June when they moved off the scheme twice as fast as all other age brackets.

In total, 600,000 under-25s across the UK were either brought back to work or made redundant.