Life after furlough: will Mansfield businesses be able to cope?

Fears have been raised that many businesses in Mansfield will not be able to cope when the government’s furlough scheme is wound down.

By Richard Silverwood
Thursday, 8th July 2021, 1:06 pm
Scott Knowles, who is chief executive officer of the East Midlands Chamber.
Scott Knowles, who is chief executive officer of the East Midlands Chamber.

Figures released by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show that the number of furloughed workers in the town is dropping fast.

But with parts of the economy still restricted by Covid measures, some companies are continuing to rely on the scheme.

And with their contribution towards the salaries of furloughed staff rising from ten per cent to 20 per cent in August, before the scheme ends completely in September, their future looks perilous.

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The British Chambers of Commerce has called on the government to extend further grant support to the worst-affected businesses.

And Scott Knowles, chief executive officer of the East Midlands Chamber said: “We must be mindful of those sectors where remaining restrictions will still impact on their ability to operate at full capacity.

"We would call for a flexible and responsive approach from the government to ensure that support is targeted and proportionate.”

The latest data shows that 3,300 jobs held by workers living in Mansfield were furloughed during May. This was 1,800 fewer than at the end of April.

The reduction coincided with an easing of restrictions that led to the reopening of indoor entertainment and hospitality, such as pubs.

In Mansfield during May, the number of hospitality jobs still furloughed dropped by 660 to 660.

The East Midlands Chamber also raised worries that businesses who utilised the furlough scheme were “struggling to find the staff they need to fulfil growing demand as we open up the economy more from July 19”.

Mr Knowles said: “In our latest survey, 75 per cent of respondents in Mansfield were looking to recruit, with 78 per cent of these struggling to find the workers they require.

"The concern is that the number of people on the job market is being reduced due to the number still on furlough.

"The ending of furlough will support those businesses looking to recruit and those who unfortunately will be released by their current employer to find alternative work.”

Separate HMRC figures show that 4,100 self-employed workers in Mansfield have received government cash since the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) started. By June 6, the total value of SEISS claims made in the town was £35.2 million.