‘Blanket ending of furlough could mean massive job losses’ Tower Hamlets mayor warns

PUBLISHED: 17:31 14 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:55 14 July 2020

Tower Hamlets mayor fears 'blanket ending' of furlough could cost jobs in the East End. Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets mayor fears 'blanket ending' of furlough could cost jobs in the East End. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

A looming “jobs crisis” could hit the East End as the government’s furlough scheme is withdrawn, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets warned this week.

A shaky reboot for east London's economy? Picture: Elena ChaykinaA shaky reboot for east London's economy? Picture: Elena Chaykina

John Biggs fears there’s not enough government aid to reboot east London’s economy, with a fifth of the country’s workforce currently on paid leave.

“I’m seriously concerned about the blanket withdrawal of the furlough scheme,” he said. “It will see many people lose their jobs. We needed a radical ‘back to work’ budget.”

The chancellor has offered businesses £1,000 for any worker they retain until January.

But the mayor sees little comfort in this with redundancy decisions being made in the meantime.

Cllr Candida Ronald... Cllr Candida Ronald... "Communities are going to rely on councils as economic shock starts to hit." Picture: Mike Brooke

The numbers on furlough have passed the million mark in Britain, around 22 per cent of the working population. This includes 433,000 on the self-employed income support scheme, while almost half-a-million more are claiming out-of-work benefits — which has risen by almost 170pc since lockdown began.

The council’s cabinet member for resources, Candida Ronald, said: “Communities are going to rely on councils more than ever to help them through the ‘fallout’, as the economic shock really starts to hit.”

It has led to MPs at Westminster calling for an emergency “back to work budget” focussing on jobs rather than the “one-size-fits-all approach” to ending the job retention scheme.

Mayor Biggs has also called for more government support for local authorities in deprived areas to meet the cost of tackling Covid-19.

Tower Hamlets is facing a shortfall of nearly £36m for April, May and June.

The government has committed to reimbursing local authorities for the cost of dealing with coronavirus, but the mayor fears it won’t be enough.

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