Islington MP slams plans to end furlough scheme as ‘making no sense’

Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA.

Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

An Islington MP has called for furlough to be extended as new figures reveal about a quarter of workers in the borough have been helped by the scheme.

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows 14,000 people have been furloughed in the constituency of Islington South and Finsbury and 16,000 in Islington North.

This amounts of 23 per cent and 26pc of workers in those areas respectfully.

Released on August 21, the data covers from when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was implemented in March until June 30.

The scheme, which is drawing to a close at the end of October, saw the government reimburse businesses with 80pc of a furloughed employee’s wage up to £2,500.

READ MORE: Arsenal refuse to furlough staff despite financial concerns amid Covid-19 pandemicIt was designed to stop a wave of redundancies amid the coronavirus lockdown and has been taken up by 1.16 businesses.

Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry said it was being withdrawn “too early and much too broadly”: “If the government is still telling large sectors of our economy that they cannot function at full capacity or cannot re-open at all due to the ongoing risks from coronavirus, it makes no sense for them to withdraw furlough support for employees in those sectors at the same time.”

She urged the government to “think again” and stop thousands “being plunged into even deeper hardship”.

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A spokesperson from Islington Council said the authority is lobbying government for “further support for local people, local jobs and local businesses” as there is a “significant risk” residents “will soon face even greater challenges to make ends meet”.

They said: “The council is doing everything it can to support residents experiencing hardship through employment and training support, financial advice and supporting local employers.”

A HM Treasury spokesperson said the scheme cannot be sustained indefinitely and the department “must now focus on providing fresh work opportunities for those in need across the UK”.

“We will continue to support businesses bringing back staff through the £1,000 job retention bonus, while our Plan for Jobs will drive our economic recovery by creating new roles for young people and new incentives for training and apprenticeships.”