New analysis by the Labour Party estimates that 5600 people were still furloughed by their employer in early February in Stevenage.
Seven months after Sunak launched his ‘Plan for Jobs’ last July, 3175 people are claiming out of work benefits and 5600 people are still on furlough in Stevenage.
The Chancellor initially triggered a one-size-fits-all wind down of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in his Plan for Jobs last July. After several last-minute changes over the autumn and winter, the scheme is now set to expire at the end of April, with rumours suggesting it might be extended.
With 5 million people still on furlough nationally, Labour is calling for the Chancellor not to repeat the mistakes of last year by winding down the scheme while public health restrictions are in place and demand is still severely impacted.
Instead, Labour is calling for Chancellor Sunak to immediately announce an extension to the furlough scheme, to remove uncertainty for local businesses and workers. They are also calling for urgent reform to make furlough smarter, with new training to help furloughed workers improve their skills and tough conditions on employers to stop abuse.
Labour’s figures also show that 3400 people in Stevenage had made claims under the Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) by the end of October. The Chancellor has left millions of self-employed people relying on the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) scheme in the dark about future support.
Labour is calling on the Chancellor to set the fourth grant of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) at 80% of pre-crisis profits – and to do it now, not at the Budget.
Labour has also called for the scheme to be open to the 200,000 people who only have a 2019/20 tax return, and for the Chancellor to urgently fix the holes its support schemes that have left millions of others excluded from support.
Stevenage Council Leader Sharon Taylor said:
“Rishi Sunak’s Plan for Jobs has been a disaster. Seven months after its launch, we’ve got record redundancies, soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis of any major economy.
“We need urgent action to secure, recover and create jobs to help 3175 people claiming out of work benefits and 5600 people still on furlough in Stevenage. This must include a smarter furlough scheme, an overhaul of the failing Kickstart youth programme, and reform of the shambolic Green Homes Grant as part of wider action to ‘Build it in Britain’ and support the creation of 400,000 new jobs.
“People can’t afford to wait for the Chancellor to get his act together. They need emergency action today, not more dither and delay until the Budget and afterwards.”