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Furlough scheme comes to end despite warnings over job losses – follow live

Furlough scheme comes to end despite warnings over job losses - follow live
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The government’s furlough scheme has come to an end today after supporting millions of UK workers over the past 18 months, despite concerns about the possibility of hundreds of thousands of job losses in the coming months.

Estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that almost one million workers were expected to be still receiving support at the end of September, while economists have warned that there is likely to be a rise in unemployment due to the end of the scheme.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned this week that workers in London were likely to be hit hardest by the end of the programme, with employees in the capital in the “most precarious position”.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend furlough in the 10 sectors that have been worst hit by disruption caused by Covid-19, such as passenger air transport, travel agencies and retail sale via stalls and markets.

“The withdrawal of furlough risks having a devastating impact on countless families already facing a winter of soaring energy bills. The government needs to rethink its approach or the country could face a coronavirus Black Thursday,” Christine Jardine, the party’s Treasury spokesperson, said.

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Minister insists ‘a lot of opportunity’ available for people who face job losses

A government minister has insisted that there is “a lot of opportunity” available to people who are facing job losses as the furlough scheme comes to an end.

“There is a lot of opportunity out there for people now. There’s never an easy moment to end these measures,” Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke told Sky News.

“They’ve been hugely important but it is also time to recognise that we are now, thankfully, out of the teeth of this pandemic … and we’re in a situation where normal opportunity is back out there for people to embrace.”

Mr Clarke added that there would be a “range” of options for those who would find themselves without work and that the unemployment rate had fallen seven months in a row.

“We never said we could protect every job … I think we need to be totally honest about this, the Covid pandemic has taken a toll on our economy, it’s changed some things,” he said.

“My message to people would be there are these opportunities there.”

You can find more of his comments below:

Conrad Duncan30 September 2021 08:29
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‘Impossible’ to estimate how many people will lose jobs after furlough, minister says

It is “impossible” to estimate how many people will lose their jobs as a result of the end of the furlough scheme today, a minister has said.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke told Sky News on Thursday that job losses due to the end to scheme were “part of the process” of ending the coronavirus crisis.

“Obviously there will be a variety of outcomes, I don’t have an estimate with me today. There will be some job losses,” Mr Clarke said.

“Furlough has protected 11.6 million jobs in total … at some point you have to end these emergency measures.

“People’s jobs will be created just as some have very sadly been lost, that is part of the process of ending this crisis and going back to normal.”

Conrad Duncan30 September 2021 08:20
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The graph below from Sky News’ Scott Beasley shows how the furlough scheme has changed over time – from a peak of supporting nearly nine million jobs in spring 2020 to around two million in summer 2021:

Conrad Duncan30 September 2021 08:07
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Sunak faces call to extend furlough amid warnings of job losses

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing last-minute calls to extend the furlough scheme for certain sectors of the economy amid warnings that workers in London are likely to be hardest hit by the end of the programme.

The economic policy has supported millions of jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the scheme’s end has prompted fears of a “tidal wave” of job losses in the coming months.

Our political correspondent, Ashley Cowburn, has the full story below:

Last-minute call to extend furlough amid jobs warning

Removing support would be ‘devastating for countless families already facing a winter of spiralling bills and cuts to working benefits’

Conrad Duncan30 September 2021 08:00
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Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of UK politics today.

Conrad Duncan30 September 2021 07:52