Furlough wind-down: Number of workers furloughed in Doncaster in May

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Thousands fewer workers in Doncaster were on furlough in May - but as the scheme starts to be wound down, the Government has been accused of acting too fast.

As of July 1, employers must pay ten per cent of the salary for furloughed staff, rising to 20% in August and September, when the support scheme ends.

But there are fears many businesses will not be able to afford the cost with parts of the economy still restricted by Covid measures.

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The latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs show that 8,200 jobs held by workers living in Doncaster were furloughed in May.

Furloughed jobs in the retail sector dropped by 1,240, to 1,200Furloughed jobs in the retail sector dropped by 1,240, to 1,200
Furloughed jobs in the retail sector dropped by 1,240, to 1,200

That was 4,200 fewer than the 12,400 furloughed at the end of April.

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The reduction coincided with an easing of restrictions which led to the reopening of indoor entertainment and hospitality, along with holiday accommodation.

The figures show that in May in Doncaster:

Furloughed jobs in the retail sector dropped by 1,240, to 1,200;

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In the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, 350 fewer jobs were supported by the scheme, with 400 still furloughed;

The number of hospitality jobs furloughed fell by 1,090, to 1,860.

Across the UK, the total number of jobs furloughed fell by 1.2 million during May to 2.4 million at the end of the month, the figures show.

The furlough scheme, formally called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, started with the Government paying 80% of a worker’s wages, up to £2,500 per month, if they were not able to work due to the impact of the pandemic.

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Employers could choose whether to make up the rest of staff salaries.

The reduction in Government support to 70 per cent with firms now required to pay ten per cent of furloughed staff salaries will cost businesses £322 in July to keep an employee earning £20,000 a year on the books, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

That could be too much for some businesses, say politicians and business groups.

Labour's shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson said: "The Government must make sure economic measures go hand in hand with public health measures and that our British businesses and high streets are not left out in the cold.”

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Meanwhile, British Chambers of Commerce director general Shevaun Haviland said: “The taper of government payments into the furlough scheme should be immediately deferred until we take the final step in the road map, and further grant support should be extended to the worst affected businesses.”

The Government has spent £66 billion on the furlough scheme since it started in March last year.

A spokesperson said: "We deliberately went long with our support to provide certainty to people and businesses over the summer, and that support, which is a substantial amount of funding, is continuing."

They added additional support was being given to businesses through grants, business rates relief and a cut in VAT.

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Separate HMRC figures show 11,200 self-employed workers in Doncaster have received Government cash since the self-employment income support scheme started. The total value of the claims made across the area stood at £93 million by June 6.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.

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