Government warned one million jobs will be lost by 'premature' ending of furlough

20 August 2020, 06:55

Up to 320,000 jobs in rural communities could be at risk if the Government ends its furlough scheme prematurely, Labour has warned.
Up to 320,000 jobs in rural communities could be at risk if the Government ends its furlough scheme prematurely, Labour has warned. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Government has been warned more than a million jobs could be at risk by the 'premature' ending of the furlough scheme.

Up to 320,000 jobs in rural communities could be lost if the Government ends the coronavirus furlough scheme too soon, Labour has warned.

The party's Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard called on the Government to abandon its "one-size-fits-all approach" to withdraw furlough for all "that will leave the whole economy struggling" and to target support at the areas where it is most needed.

The news comes following a report from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research which said that ending the furlough scheme altogether in October as currently planned could lead to 1.2 million people being made unemployed by the end of the year across the UK.

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Labour warns that ending the furlough scheme for all workers in October would be "catastrophic" for rural economies, with almost a third of the 1.2 million people predicted to be made unemployed in the next few months based in jobs in rural communities in England.

According to estimates from the Office for National Statistics, more than half a million people in rural and semi-rural communities across Britain are currently unemployed.

Labour says that the predicted loss of 320,000 further jobs could result in a 60 per cent rise in unemployment in these areas.

The party's analysis warns that the area of the country with the highest percentage of jobs furloughed is South Lakeland in Cumbria, where 40 per cent of all workers are furloughed.

It adds that up to 42,000 currently furloughed workers across urban and rural areas in the North East could find their employment at risk if the furlough scheme ends prematurely.

Mr Pollard said: "Rural communities and small towns have been hit hard by austerity and are already facing severe challenges, including access to transport, educational opportunities and good quality housing. They cannot afford for hundreds of thousands of jobs to go.

"The Government should be working with businesses and unions to target support where it is needed most, not ploughing ahead with a one-size-fits-all approach that will leave whole sectors of the economy struggling."

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