New figures released by HMRC have shown that more than 17,300 people in the Scottish Borders have benefitted from the UK Government’s furlough scheme.
The furlough scheme, also known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, has been an instrumental part of stopping people from losing their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As of February 28th 2021, 7,600 were still on furlough in the Borders, the equivalent of nearly 1 in 6 employees (15%). This is compared to the highest in Scotland, Highland with 19%, and the lowest, Orkney and Shetland with just 9% of workers on furlough.
Across the UK, 11.4 million jobs have been supported by the scheme since its inception over a year ago when the UK went into national lockdown. This means that the UK Government has spent £57.7 billion on the scheme.
Analysis of the scheme shows that the pubs and bars followed by hotels are the sectors who have benefitted the most from the scheme across the UK.
The same can be said for the Borders, where 1600 people were on furlough from the accommodation and food services sector in February. The next most affected sector was wholesale and retail with 1290 furloughed.
In his recent budget, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that the furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September 2021.
John Lamont MP said:
“The furlough scheme has been absolutely key to many Borders businesses over the past year. It has protected jobs whilst allowing businesses to go into hibernation during the lockdown.
“Over the last year, more than 17,000 jobs have been protected by the furlough scheme. Without it, the effect on the local economy would have been utterly devastating.
“The pandemic has forced our economy to close down for many months now. Some businesses have barely opened at all over twelve months.
“The upcoming relaxation of restrictions will be very welcome to those who can reopen like garden centres and hairdressers. However, we are still a number of weeks away from more businesses reopening.
“I am glad that the furlough scheme has been extended to September as it will continue to protect jobs in those sectors who will be shut for the longest period."