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Furlough delays led to redundancy spikes, says Labour

RISHI SUNAK’S mismanagement of the furlough scheme has directly contributed to huge numbers of proposed job losses, Labour analysis suggested yesterday.

The party found a correlation between the Chancellor’s last-minute decisions on the job-retention scheme and spikes in numbers of planned redundancies.

The number of planned redundancies in June and July was twice as high as in May, with struggling businesses made to start contributing to furlough costs from August 1.

More than 300,000 redundancies were proposed in those two months, Labour found.

Then, in November, Mr Sunak made a last-minute decision not to replace the furlough scheme with the less-generous job-support scheme. Almost 140,000 redundancies had been planned in September and October as employers expected to pay more under the postponed changes.

From September to November a record 395,000 people were made redundant, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The furlough scheme is scheduled to finish at the end of April, before all Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

Mr Sunak plans to discuss Covid-19 support during the Budget next Wednesday, but shadow business minister Lucy Powell said that long-term certainty is needed before then.

“Rather than constantly changing his mind, the Chancellor should have stood by his promise to do whatever it takes,” she said. 

“Businesses cannot wait for the Budget — they are a step ahead of the Chancellor and making their decisions about their employees’ futures right now.

“Unless the Chancellor gives businesses some certainty now, he may as well send out P45s himself.”

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