Fewer staff now ‘furloughed’ in Hertfordshire – and unemployment rate is falling

Chief executive of the Herts LEP Neil Hayes spoke at a meeting of the county council’s growth, infrastructure and planning cabinet panel

Monday, 28th June 2021, 10:35 am
Updated Monday, 28th June 2021, 10:36 am

A significant drop in the number of people on ‘furlough’ in Hertfordshire is being heralded as a sign that the local economy is ‘returning to normal’.

Back in March 2020 the government launched the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ (CJRS) to enable employers to ‘furlough’ staff – with the government then paying the lionshare of the employees salary.

Latest data shows that at the end of April there are 62,100 people in the county on furlough.

Hertfordshire County Council

That’s almost 16,000 – or 20 per cent – fewer than had been furloughed on the CJRS just one month earlier, at the end of March.

And speaking at a meeting of the county council’s growth, infrastructure and planning cabinet panel on Tuesday, June 22, chief executive of the Herts LEP Neil Hayes welcomed the trend.

He said that the 20 per cent reduction was the ‘biggest shift’ on a monthly basis and signalled the opening up of the economy.

But he also cautioned councillors that it was only when the governments CJRS ends in September that they would know how many jobs remained.

“I think that’s an indication of things returning to normal,” said Mr Hayes, referring to the latest CJRS figures.

“I think where we need to keep an eye on this will be at the end of September when this scheme ends – and how many of those will either fall into employment or unemployment.

“So that will really be the bell weather for how the economy is performing, would be my judgement.

“By the end of September when this scheme presumably ends, we will get to know which of those people currently in employment have jobs to go back to or are going to be unemployed.”

In addition, Mr Hayes told councillors that the number of jobs advertised in the county between January and April was up 12 per cent, compared to same time last year.

And he said the average number of monthly redundancies since January had been 137 – compared to 800 a month between June and December.

He said the employment rate in the county remained higher than across the country.

And he said that it was “significantly higher than some of the predictions we were making 12 months ago when the pandemic first hit”.