£1k furlough grants 'probably not big enough' to convince some Wakefield firms to bring staff back

Financial incentives for employers to bring furloughed staff back into work may have little impact on jobs in Wakefield.

Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 4:45 pm
Nearly a third of the Wakefield district's workforce has been furloughed.

That's the warning from the district council's chief executive, Merran McRae, who suggested bonuses for businesses who retain their employees may not be big enough to convince firms struggling to find their feet again.

Businesses who keep their staff after the furlough scheme ends will get £1,000 per employee, provided that employee earns above £520 per month and is still in their job by the end of next January.

But Ms McRae said a large proportion of the 48,000 people in Wakefield who have been furloughed may be earning less than that.

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She made the comments on Monday at a meeting of Wakefield's coronavirus recovery board, which has been set up to plot a roadmap out of the pandemic for the district.

Ms McRae said: "We think significant numbers of those furloughed staff will be below the £520 per month threshold, because they'll be part time workers.

"They are mainly people in the retail, accommodation and food services sectors.

"There's an argument that (the incentive) is too small and temporary to have an impact on employment and that it's not targeted enough.

"I'm aware some third sector organisation will benefit from it, so some employers will be better off.

"But I think generally it's being seen as not significant enough to be an incentive.

"So if you were going to bring back your employees anyway, it's a bonus.

"If you weren't it's probably not big enough to change your mind."

"So we don't think this will have a big impact in Wakefield, in terms of unemployment."

Those in the district who have been furloughed make up 29 per cent of the local workforce.

Local Democracy Reporting Service