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Thu, 21 January 2021

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End of furlough scheme puts 320,000 rural jobs at risk, Labour warns

End of furlough scheme puts 320,000 rural jobs at risk, Labour warns

Labour have warned of job losses in rural communities

2 min read

As many as 320,000 jobs in rural communities could be at risk as the furlough scheme ends, Labour have warned.

The party have called on ministers to ditch their "one-size-fits-all" approach to winding down the jobs retention scheme over fears that rural communities could be disproportionately hit.

Using research from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research which found that 1.2 million people will lose their jobs when the furlough scheme is ended, Labour said nearly a third (31%) will be located in rural communities.

It comes after research from the Office for National Statistics found that over half a million people in rural and semi-rural communites were already unemployed.

But shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard warned the extra job losses stemming from the end of the job support scheme could push unemployment in some of those communities to as high as 60%.

"Rural communities and small towns have been hit hard by austerity and are already facing severe challenges, including access to transport, educational opportunities and good quality housing," he said.

"They cannot afford for hundreds of thousands of jobs to go.

"The government should be working with businesses and unions to target support where it is needed most, not ploughing ahead with a one-size-fits-all approach that will leave whole sectors of the economy struggling."

Since 1 August, employers have had to restart payments of National Insurance and pension contributions for their staff.

From next month, the Treasury will contribute 70% of wages for those on furlough, dropping to 60% in October, with the scheme due to end the month after.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has so far resisted calls to extend the scheme, instead promising firms a £1,000 bonus for each member of staff who is returned from furlough and kept in their job until the end of January 2021.

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