Latest figures show thousands more Milton Keynes workers on furlough
Thousands more workers in Milton Keynes were on furlough last month as stricter lockdown restrictions were imposed.
HM Revenue and Customs data reveals around 18,700 jobs held by workers living in Milton Keynes were furloughed as of January 31.
That was 2,400 more than the 16,300 furloughed a month earlier, when the UK was on the cusp of its third national lockdown.
But despite this increase, the number is still far lower than in May last year – the earliest month with comparable figures – when there were 33,900 furloughed jobs.
Jobs at firms which are unable to operate or have no work for their employees during the pandemic are eligible for furlough pay from the Government – with workers currently getting 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month.
Across the UK, 4.7 million jobs were furloughed as of January 31, a steep rise from 4 million a month before, but still well below the 8.7 million in May 2020.
Charlie McCurdy, researcher at the Resolution Foundation think tank which focuses on living standards, said: “Today’s HMRC data shows that the Job Retention Scheme again took the strain during the latest lockdown with an increase of almost a million people on the scheme during January.
"Furlough has once again played a crucial role in protecting incomes and keeping a lid on rising unemployment.
"But with almost five million workers still on furlough in the most recent data, our biggest labour market challenges may be ahead of, rather than behind, us."
As is the case across the UK, the industry with the most jobs furloughed in the South East is hospitality, with 145,600 at the end of January – 23% of all furloughed employments in the region.
The Labour Party warned more than a million hospitality jobs could be lost nationally if the furlough scheme is not extended.
Lucy Powell, shadow minister for business and consumers, said: “Business owners want to protect their livelihoods and those of their employees, but they can’t plan in the dark and they’re crying out for certainty from the Government on business rates, VAT and the furlough scheme."
Around 1.1 million jobs in the accommodation and food services sector were furloughed in the UK as of January 31.
Separate HMRC figures show around 7,800 claims had been made in Milton Keynes for the third Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant by the end of January – 65% of eligible workers.
The SEISS allows the self-employed to claim a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits, up to £7,500.