With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) coming to an end in September 2021, data shows nearly 2 million workers remain furloughed by their employers.

In June, despite a drop of 590,000 workers on the furlough scheme, records show 1.9 million employees were still furloughed.

It also appears that the younger workers have been returning to work much faster than their older counterparts, of which one in ten remained furloughed.

Comments from Charlie McCurdy, Economist at the Resolution Foundation, were: “The number of furloughed employees has fallen below two million for the first time as the economy continues to re-open. But that is higher than many expected, and a cause for concern as the scheme is wound down.

‘With employer contributions to furloughed staff doubling from 1st August 2021, and the scheme ending completely in just two months’ time, it’s vital that as many furloughed staff as possible return to work soon in order to limit the rise in unemployment this Autumn.’

The furlough scheme has been a lifeline for employees and employers alike. Initially, the protection of jobs eased many worries and concerns, given the unprecedented events of the Covid-19 pandemic. As the world adapted to the changes it brought, the furlough scheme adapted too, allowing for flexibility in the return to work.

But has the scheme become a crutch that businesses are relying on unnecessarily? Some business owners could fear a relapse, resulting in further lockdown restrictions being reintroduced and as a result are fearful to return to the same capacity of trade as before.

On the other hand, due to the speed in which the CJRS was released, furlough fraud could also play a significant part of the figures. As of 30 June 2021, HMRC confirmed they have opened over 6,000 inquiries into suspected overpayments due to furlough fraud. This relates to cases where HMRC believe there has been fraud or an error which requires their intervention. The number of fraudulent applications which may not require HMRC’s intervention may remain untraced.

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