Furlough scheme: When does it end, what does it mean for people in Sheffield and what jobs are available?
Thousands of workers in Sheffield are set for a big change as the Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end today, Thursday.
The scheme, which saw the Government providing 80 per cent of the wages of those unable to work for most of the Covid-19 pandemic, and 60 per cent in the last two months, will be completely withdrawn on Friday, October 1 after running since last March.
It has helped to secure the jobs of more than 11 million people across the country throughout the last 18 months of lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions, including supporting more than 10,000 in Sheffield.
But after spending around £66bn on the project through its duration, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has decided now is the time for it to come to an end.
What is furlough?
The scheme was initially created to help businesses pay the wages of their employees during the pandemic, as many premises were forced to close or change their operations during the lockdowns.
The idea was that anyone who was unable to work, such as those in the hospitality and nightclub industry, would still be paid 80 per cent of their wages, with businesses given the chance to contribute the extra 20 per cent if they were financially able – although many were not able to do so, due to the closures and restrictions.
It was introduced to reduce the outgoings of businesses at such a diffcult time and ensure they could survive beyond the pandemic,as well as making sure those unable to work could still afford to live.
During August and September, when coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England, the Government’s contribution dropped to 60 per cent and employers were asked to contribute the extra 20 per cent.
The furlough scheme had a limit of £2,500 per month.
Why is furlough ending?
With the vast majority of Covid restrictions now lifted in England and most businesses now able to operate as normal, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has decided the support is no longer necessary or sustainable.
According to estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility, the £66bn the Government has spent on furlough is about one fifth of the money it has spent on its total response to the Covid crisis.
What does the end of furlough mean for people in Sheffield?
More than 10,000 across the city will be affected by the end of the scheme, leaving many people worried about their jobs, finances and what will happen next.
Government figures show 10,960 people in Sheffield are currently on furlough. In South Yorkshire, as of July 31, it was 24,590, which is the latest figure available.
At the start of the pandemic it was feared that more than one in 10 workers would become unemployed, but the good news is that the unemployment rate is currently less than one in 20.
However, many forecasters, including the Bank of England, are expecting a small rise in unemployment now furlough is coming to an end.
The end of furlough does mean that those employers who have been supported by the scheme will now have to pay full cost of their staff’s wages.
Businesses in Sheffield have not confirmed what the changes will mean for their employees specifically, but hopes remain high as the lack of current restrictions mean that many companies are able to return to the way they operated before the pandemic.
There are also lots of recruitment and job opportunities currently available in Sheffield, which should help those who may be affected.
What jobs are currently available in Sheffield?
There are lots of different job roles currently being advertised in Sheffield, in a number of different sectors, fields and businesses.
In retail, hundreds of career vacancies will be up for grabs at a jobs fair taking place inside Meadowhall Shopping Centre today, Thursday, September 30.
Primark, Boots and JD Sports are among 25 retailers looking to employ talented and enthusiastic individuals at the event taking place inside Meadowhall.
There are more than 100 roles available at the event, with stalls and representatives from a range of retailers and restaurants.
For more information visit the Meadowhall website here.
As well as these jobs, there are plenty of new roles being advertised on recruitment website Indeed, from customer service positions at ASDA, Boots and Marks and Spencer, to warehouse positions at Amazon, to financial roles at Monzo and Co-Op.