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Tower Hamlets’ MPs issue warnings as figures show almost 40,000 jobs in Tower Hamlets furloughed

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 June 2020

Tower Hamlets has seen almost 40,000 jobs furloughed, according to HMRC. Picture: Canary Wharf Group

Tower Hamlets has seen almost 40,000 jobs furloughed, according to HMRC. Picture: Canary Wharf Group

Canary Wharf Group - submitted

The East End has seen almost 40,000 jobs furloughed, figures show.

Apsana Begum, MP for Poplar and LimehouseApsana Begum, MP for Poplar and Limehouse

Tower Hamlets has an estimated 37,300 workers on the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) which provides grants to employers of up to 80 per cent of salary to a maximum £2,500 per employee.

Bethnal Green and Bow has 17,500 employees on the scheme, according to HMRC’s analysis.

This compares to 19,800 in Poplar and Limehouse. Nearby West Ham has the highest number on furlough in the capital, 29,300.

Apsana Begum, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said: “The government must do whatever it takes to protect people from the economic impact of coronavirus.

MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, has called for urgent action into deep-rooted causes of inequality, following government u-turn on providing free school meals. Picture: Rushanara Ali MPMP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, has called for urgent action into deep-rooted causes of inequality, following government u-turn on providing free school meals. Picture: Rushanara Ali MP

“This includes extending support schemes for workers and business so that no one is forced to work in unsafe conditions and that people’s health and wellbeing is prioritised.”

She added that many people have fallen through “cracks” in government schemes including freelancers, the recently recruited and businesses not registered for rates.

Market traders face “huge difficulties” with economic differences seeing ethnic minority communities particularly hit by financial hardship, Ms Begum said.

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The scheme is based around HMRC’s pay as you earn (PAYE) system. For an employer to qualify they need to have created a PAYE scheme by March 19.

From July 1, employers can bring employees back to work who were furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the grant for their normal hours not worked.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said the figures show the scheme has been a lifeline for 17,500 people in her constituency and millions across the country.

“They remind us just how many livelihoods could be at risk when employers are required to contribute 20 per cent of employee’s wages.

“The impact of social distancing has been varied across sectors, with the hospitality and tourism industries disproportionately hit.

“It is vital that the chancellor adapts his financial support schemes to accommodate for these variations in order to prevent mass redundancies in the autumn,” she added.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We have provided a generous, wide-ranging package of support for businesses. Our job retention scheme has helped a million employers and protected 8.9million jobs.

“As well as furloughing staff, we’ve introduced a wide range of other targeted support measures for different sectors, including bounce back loans and tax deferrals, business rates holidays and more than £10 billion of grants to businesses.”

Almost all the country’s 650 MPs have at least 10,000 constituents furloughed.

HMRC’s analysis covers the start of the scheme until May 31.


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