Warning on future despite 25% drop in hospitality workers on furlough

Warning on future despite 25% drop in hospitality workers on furlough

The number of Northern Ireland hospitality workers on furlough dropped 25% to 5,520 between June 30 and July 31, it has been revealed

While provisional data from HMRC put the total number of NI workers still on furlough at just over 36,000, this represented a drop of 8,300 from the previous total.

For the UK as a whole, at the end of July 1.6 million people were still on furlough, the lowest level since the start of the pandemic and  340,000 fewer than were on the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme a month earlier

However, Charlie McCurdy, an economist at the Resolution Foundation think-tank, warned: “The number of people coming off furlough over the summer has slowed to a trickle, as some firms and sectors – notably overseas tourism – struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity.

‘Government must change course’

“As a result, up to a million employees could still be on furlough when the scheme closes at the end of this month.

“While we expect most of these staff to return to their previous roles, a significant number will not, and we could see a fresh rise in unemployment this autumn.

“Given these circumstances, now is not the right time to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week. The Government must change course.”

July was the first month in which employers had to pay 10% of the salaries of their furloughed workers, giving them an incentive to bring staff back, or end their employment. This went up again to 20% for August and September and a the end of this month the scheme will come to a end.

Half (18,000) of those recorded as furloughed in Northern Ireland on July 31 were registered as fully furloughed, with the remainder operating on a flexible basis, with employees working some of their hours.

One-in-four of the hospitality workers on furlough in Northern Ireland at the end of July were in the Belfast City Council area which remained the district with the highest total number of furloughed workers (6,650), followed by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon (4,200) and Newry, Mourne and Down (3,890).

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