Warning over jobs in Yorkshire as Rishi Sunak's furlough scheme draws to an end

The end of the furlough scheme could cause a rise in unemployment, the TUC has warned.

The scheme to protect jobs, introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the height of the pandemic, ends today - but some 105,400 people in Yorkshire and the Humber were still benefitting from having the Government meet some of their salary by the end of July, figures show.

The scheme to protect jobs, introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the height of the pandemic, ends today - but some 105,400 people in Yorkshire and the Humber were still benefitting from having the Government meet some of their salary by the end of July, figures show.

The manufacturing, accommodation and retail sectors in the region still have particularly high levels of workers on the scheme.

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Some 16,680 workers across the region in the wholesale, retail and motor vehicle repair sector were still on furlough, almost half of those being in West Yorkshire.

And 15,180 people working in manufacturing are on the scheme, which in its final tapering saw the Government pay 60 per cent of salaries with employers expected to contribute 20 per cent.

Over 1.3m people across England were on the scheme as of the end of July, representing six per cent of the eligible workforce.

The rate of those on the scheme in Yorkshire and the Humber was slightly lower - five per cent.

But the TUC’s regional secretary Bill Adams has warned that the end of the scheme, coupled with the curtailing of the £20 increase to Universal Credit payments introduced at the height of the pandemic, could lead to unemployment levels soaring this winter.

He said: “Rishi Sunak is leading us into winter without a plan to protect working people and rebuild Yorkshire’s economy.

“The cost of living is rising fast, but ministers are determined to cut vital universal credit support. They must cancel the cut to help keep families warm and fed through the winter ahead.

“The Chancellor should rethink the end of furlough. Many workers in hard hit industries are still furloughed and need support for longer. Otherwise, we may see a rise in unemployment.

“For the Chancellor to jeopardise jobs in his own region like this is astonishing”

The York based Joseph Rowntree Foundation has also warned of the impact of cutting the scheme coupled with the benefit cut.

Rebecca McDonald, senior economist at the charity, said: “Although many are back in work, Universal Credit needs to continue to be a lifeline to the half a million families it supports in Yorkshire.

“Many families will already be wondering how they will manage with £20 per week less as of October 6, especially given the rises we are all seeing in the cost of living.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The uplift to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme were always temporary, to help people through the economic shock of the toughest stages of the pandemic.