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Number of people seeking redundancy advice triples as furlough scheme winds down

Written by on 09/10/2020

A leading charity says it is helping “one person every two minutes” with redundancy fears in the UK as the furlough deadline looms.

Citizens Advice says the number of people seeking redundancy advice is more than triple that of the same time last year.

Last week alone 300,000 people visited its website featuring advice about how to cope with job loss.

John Boyle
Image: John Boyle lost his job after working backstage in a Liverpool Theatre for nearly 30 years

“It’s a really worrying time,” Minesh Patel from Citizens Advice told Sky News.

“People are really worried about what is going to happen next for them, particularly with the end of the furlough scheme this month.

“There is a real worry about there being another wave of redundancy.”

The furlough scheme, which saw workers paid 80% of their salary to stay at home up to a cap of £2,500, will end for good on 31 October.

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It is being replaced by a Jobs Support Scheme in November.

On Friday Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the government will pay up to two-thirds of the wages of people who work for firms required to shut because of coronavirus rules.

It goes further than a previously announced scheme to top up the salary of workers on a third of their hours.

But critics have warned the schemes don’t go far enough and could see widespread job losses.

Figures, released exclusively to Sky News, show visits to the charity’s online forums featuring advice about benefit entitlement have also gone up by nearly a third.

The page explaining what different benefits people can apply for has become the most visited on the website.

John Boyle, 54, from Liverpool contacted the charity after being laid off from his job in March.

Mr Boyle worked backstage in a Liverpool Theatre for nearly 30 years. This is the first time he has ever claimed a state benefit.

“I’ve cried so many times, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve cried,” he told Sky News.

“It’s just been soul destroying to me. I’ve been trying to get a job since March and it’s just been horrendous because that whole industry has collapsed.”

Charities have warned that thousands of people could be left struggling when the uplift to Universal Credit of £20 a week is scrapped next year.

The increase was introduced in April to help families through financial hardship brought on by lockdown.

The Department for Work and Pensions told Sky News it had spent billions on supporting the most vulnerable, and would continue to focus on job creation, retraining and financial assistance.

But for Mr Boyle, the prospect of losing even £20 is frightening.

“I live basic as it is,” he says. “The thing that is going to build-up with me is going to be my rent. It could even come to the time when I get evicted.

“I used to see people living on the streets and wondered how they got there. But now I know.

“It’s so surreal, I just can’t bear to think what’s going to happen in the next four weeks let alone the next 12 months.”

The chancellor announced the national furlough scheme in March, shortly after the country went into lockdown in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The scheme began to wind down in August – when the ONS estimated 12% of employees were still using it.

 Sky News

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