The number of people on furlough in the Scottish Borders has continued to fall, according to new figures. 2,200 people were still on the scheme at the end of July 2021, down by 500 from the month previously, and down by more than two thirds since January.
With further relaxation of restrictions in Scotland on August 9th, it is widely expected that the figure will have fallen considerably further since.
1,200 women and 1000 men remained on the scheme at the end of July. 2,200 people represents 5% of eligible employees in the area.
Furlough, officially the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, was introduced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to protect jobs and livelihoods as the pandemic hit in March 2020.
The figures also show that 17,600 jobs have been protected by the scheme in the Scottish Borders since March 2020.
The top three industries in the Borders with employees still on furlough are accommodation and food services (370 employees), wholesale and retail (350), and arts, entertainment and recreation (320).
The most affected age group in the Borders is 50-54 year olds with 290 people on furlough. The least affected age group is 25-29 year olds with 160.
The scheme will close at the end of this month.
John Lamont MP said:
“These new figures show just how vital this scheme has been to the local Borders economy, saving 17,600 jobs since its inception and protecting thousands of livelihoods.
“It is very welcome that the number of people on furlough continues to decline at a rapid rate, going down by 500 during July. This signifies that people are getting back to work and the economy is steadily recovering.
“As furlough winds down in the coming weeks, it is imperative that the SNP-Green Government focus on our recovery, rather than obsessing over independence.
“The recovery from the pandemic will take time and it is imperative during this phase that governments of all levels are completely focused on getting people back into work and getting our public services back up to speed, especially our NHS.”
Rachael Hamilton MSP, added:
“The furlough scheme has been highly successful in protecting jobs right across the Borders, Scotland and the UK.
“Thanks to the pooling and sharing of resources across all four nations, the UK Government has mitigated against the worst economic effects of the pandemic.
“It is welcome news that the number on furlough continues to fall, and with the scheme ending soon, we need the SNP Government in Edinburgh to be planning ahead.
“Yet we saw very little in their Programme for Government last week for protecting jobs and growing economic recovery; it was focussed on another divisive independence referendum.
“The focus must be on retaining current jobs, helping people reskill and retrain to find employment as well as assisting young people to get on the career ladder.”