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Thousands remained on furlough through the summer in Peterborough

Even as lockdown restrictions eased and businesses began re-opening for the summer, almost 5,000 Peterborough workers were still on furlough, according to recent government statistics.
Cowgate 2, Peterborough
The number of people on furlough dropped significantly from July to August - but thousands were still using the scheme (Photo: John Baker)

At the end of March, as lockdown hit the tourism and hospitality sectors, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the government would pay up to 80% of workers' pay. At the height of the lockdown, between 24% and 27% of eligible workers in Peterborough were being paid to stay away from their jobs.

Take up rates for the government scheme fell sharply across Peterborough between July and August, as restrictions eased, but thousands remained on furlough, latest statistics from HM Revenue and Customs show.

In August, the take-up rate dropped to 8% - meaning that of the 62,200 eligible workers, 4,700 were on furlough.

In the North West Cambridgeshire constituency, take-up was also 8%, but this was equivalent to 5,800 people on furlough as there are more eligible workers.

The government's contribution to furloughed workers' wages has been cut from 80% to 60%, while the scheme ends at the end of this month.

Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: "It’s good news that some people have returned to their jobs. But these figures still show over 400,000 job losses for furloughed workers in the summer months.

"Those who have remained on furlough for longer are likely to be in hard-hit sectors, like hospitality and the arts. And they face tougher challenges for returning to work.

"From November, the furlough scheme will be replaced by the job support scheme, which pays workers just over 70% of wages.

"The Chancellor should make this support easier to access, with a higher wage subsidy, to give more jobs a better chance of survival. And he’ll need to boost job creation and increase the support available from Universal Credit for those who do lose work."