Hundreds fewer Midlothian workers on furlough in April

Hundreds fewer workers in Midlothian were on furlough in April, as coronavirus restrictions started easing across the UK.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 5:00 am
While some soft play centres have opened in Scotland, they remain closed in Midlothian. Picture Michael Gillen.

Many pub, restaurant and shop workers returned to their roles that month as outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail opened for the first time since December.

However, with restrictions still in place, businesses in other sectors continue to be hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

HM Revenue and Customs figures show that 4,800 jobs held by workers living in Midlothian were furloughed in April. That was 1,100 fewer than the 5,900 furloughed at the end of March.

The figures also show that in April in Midlothian furloughed jobs in the retail sector dropped by 250, to 910. In the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, 120 fewer jobs were supported by the scheme, however 350 were still furloughed in April. While, the number of hospitality jobs furloughed fell by 150, to 1,150

Through the scheme, the Government pays 80 per cent of a worker’s wages, up to £2,500 per month, if they haven’t been able to work due to the impact of the pandemic. However, employers will pay a larger contribution from July.

Across the UK, the total number of jobs furloughed fell by 900,000 during April to 3.4 million at the end of the month, the figures show.

Dan Tomlinson, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, which focuses on living standards, said the drop in the number of people on furlough was "encouraging". He added that it is an indicator that the labour market – as well as the wider economy – is recovering quickly.

“But with around one in six young workers still on furlough at the end of April, today’s figures are a stark reminder of the risk of rising unemployment when the furlough scheme ends," he said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We’ll continue to support those who need it through to September but I am hopeful that we’ll see more people moving back into work as we continue on the road to recovery.”

HMRC figures show 3,300 self-employed workers in Midlothian have received Government cash since the self-employment income support scheme started, calculated at costing £31.2 million by May 9 this year.

At a recent four-nation coronavirus recovery summit, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for the UK Government to extend the furlough scheme beyond September.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the Government was “open-minded” about the possibility of this and that the furlough scheme had been a huge success.