Hundreds come off furlough in Bedford as report warns over 50s could be locked out of work by ageism

"It’s vital employers are able to tap into the wealth of talent and experience this workforce can bring"

Friday, 15th October 2021, 12:15 pm

Hundreds more workers came off furlough in Bedford in August, figures show – before the scheme ended last month.

The figures come as a new report warns that over-50s made redundant following the end of furlough could see themselves locked out of work by ageism.

The latest data from HM Revenue and Customs shows 3,500 jobs held by workers living in Bedford were furloughed as of August 31 – 4 per cent of all that were eligible.

3,500 jobs held by workers living in Bedford were furloughed as of August 31 – that was 500 fewer than the 4,000 at the end of July, when 5 per cent of jobs were furloughed

That was 500 fewer than the 4,000 at the end of July, when 5 per cent of jobs were furloughed.

It was also 16,700 fewer than in May 2020, when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was at its peak across the UK.

Between mid-May last year and August this year, the number of jobs furloughed nationally has fallen from 8.9 million to just 1.3 million – with 260,000 coming off the scheme in the last month.

From August 1, employers had to contribute 20 per cent of employees’ wages up to £625, with the Government contributing 60 per cent, up to £1,875.

The Resolution Foundation said it is highly likely that around 1 million workers were still furloughed when the scheme closed at the end of September.

Dan Tomlinson, senior economist at the think-tank, said: "Low earners, older workers and people working in sectors like overseas travel are the most likely to have been furloughed, and therefore face the greatest risk of unemployment right now.

"The Government has rightly announced further funding to assist their job searching, but is wrong to have cut unemployment support by £20 a week.”

The Centre for Ageing Better said the latest UK labour market figures showed that 355,000 over-50s are unemployed, with 31,000 having been made redundant between May and July.

It added more than a third of 50 to 70-year-olds surveyed across the UK last summer felt at a disadvantage in applying for jobs due to their age.

Kim Chaplain, associate director for work at the organisation, said: “With the furlough scheme over and many over-50s looking for work, it’s vital that employers are able to tap into the wealth of talent and experience that this workforce can bring."

She added not enough employers have processes in place to make their hiring "as inclusive as possible".

In Bedford, 1,220 people aged 50 and over were on furlough at the end of August – down from 1,350 a month previously.

By comparison, there were just 640 workers aged under 30 still on the scheme at this time.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the scheme had acted as a lifeline for communities all over the UK during the toughest of economic times.

He added: "The economy has reopened, and as planned millions of workers have moved off the scheme and back into work, now we move into the next stage of our Plan for Jobs with a £500m support package to help get people into work and into better paid jobs."