Hidden unemployment from coronavirus

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 22nd June 2020.

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Photo of Caroline Russell Caroline Russell Green

According to official government figures, as of 31 May 2020, the furlough scheme has reached 8.7 million workers across the UK. I am concerned that as this scheme is wound up it will leave many Londoners facing immediate unemployment without a safety net. Can you provide any data or modelling you have regarding: a) how many furloughed workers there are in London by sector, and b) the numbers at risk of unemployment as the furlough scheme winds up in London?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

According to HMRC official statistics, London accounted for 12 per cent of the total UK employments furloughed with approximately 1.07 million furloughed employments – the highest number amongst regions. It is not yet possible to provide the numbers at risk of unemployment. Official statistics published by HMRC show furloughed workers by sector for the UK, but not for London.

I advocated for changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and welcome the fact that the Chancellor listened and introduced a flexible furlough scheme. Government support will need to continue and be adapted to fit the needs of those sectors who continue to hardest hit by Coronavirus and the need for social distancing this includes the creative and cultural industries, hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors.

Longer term, support will need to be provided to help those who have lost work and will need help getting back into employment either in their existing industries or to be reskilled to take up opportunities in other sectors. The Recovery Board which I co-chair with London Councils, will take this forward.