Home Finance Furlough warning: Rishi Sunak's claims 'ring increasingly hollow' as job data is...

Furlough warning: Rishi Sunak's claims 'ring increasingly hollow' as job data is released

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Furlough support has now protected over 11 million jobs according to the Government, and Rishi Sunak extended the scheme this week. In this week’s Budget, the Chancellor declared: “Every job lost is a tragedy, which is why protecting, creating and supporting jobs remains my highest priority.”

The ONS noted there is no age group that is over-represented within the high vulnerability group.

However, there are clearly limitations on how different age groups end up in the low vulnerability group (jobs that can be easily done from home or are classed as key worker roles) with around a fifth of employees aged 20 to 29 years falling into this group.

This falls to 9.5 percent for those aged 16 to 19, with 40 to 49 year olds making up 28.5 percent of the low category.

Lorna Carter-Blake, the MD of DA Training and Consultancy, reflected on the data and was particularly critical of the Government’s efforts: “Claims by the Government that we’re all in this together ring increasingly hollow when you look at the raw data.

“While higher earning professionals have been the least likely to see their income impacted by the pandemic, as they can largely work from home, those in lower paid jobs who cannot are the most likely to earn less.

“For the lowest earners to be the ones with the highest chances of receiving reduced pay is rubbing salt in the wound.

“Following on from Thursday’s data showing the biggest quarterly rise in NEETs for a decade, this latest analysis shows that almost half of people aged 16-19 in the workforce are vulnerable to receiving reduced pay or being furloughed.

“Young people, it’s increasingly clear, are not just the least likely to find a job but, if they do get one, are the most likely to see their earnings cut.

“Young people need to see that there are opportunities within their reach to avoid becoming entrenched in the cyclone of unemployment.

“Many higher earners have really flourished during the past 12 months as they have been able to adapt rapidly to new working practices. In many cases, they have set up side-hustles and launched new business altogether.

“What’s important is that higher earners now pay their fair share of tax in order to help everyone in this country recover. Only then will we all truly be in this together.”

Many fear that as the furlough scheme and other support measures eventually end, there will be a wave of redundancies as businesses struggle to keep staff on without Government help.

Kirsty Thompson, an Employment partner at national law firm Devonshires, warned of this and urged employees to get ready: “The extension of the furlough scheme will safeguard thousands of jobs across the UK until later this year, with the caveat that employers will have to contribute more towards the costs of furlough as the economy reopens.

“For many employees though, this announcement is simply delaying the inevitable redundancy they will face once the scheme finally comes to an end. It is an unfortunate reality that some employees won’t have a job to go back to as even if businesses reopen, they may not need the same levels of staff that they did before the pandemic.”

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