The furlough scheme to help jobs hit by the Covid pandemic ends at the end of the month – but thousands of York workers still depend on it.
Latest data revealed by the Treasury show that 3,900 workers are still on furlough support in the city.
Liberal Democrat councillors in the city are warning that small businesses and employees are facing a cliff edge as the scheme is set to expire at the end of September.
In total 36,100 local workers have been supported by the scheme since its introduction in March 2020.
With 105,400 workers across North Yorkshire still receiving furlough payments, nearly four thousands of which are employed in York, the impact of the withdrawal of the scheme could see the local recovery slow down.
Councillor Andrew Waller, Liberal Democrat Executive member for economy and strategic planning, said: “Whilst we are seeing very positive signs of local recovery, these furlough support figures, the recent GDP growth rate and ongoing issues in the supply chain show the economy is far from being out of the woods yet.
“The furlough scheme has been crucial to our joint efforts to protect jobs and livelihoods of local residents, with companies being able to flexibly utilise the scheme as they work to return back to their normal business model.
“There is danger that the cliff edge for furlough support could see unemployment rise, so there needs to be clearer support for individuals to retrain, and change careers without losing income whilst doing so.
“Strenuous efforts are being made within York to match vacant posts with people looking for work and require re-training, but this will be stretched to breaking point if there is a large jolt to the economy.”
He said families face “a triple whammy” with the end of furlough, the scrapping of the Universal Credit £20-a-week uplift and the National Insurance tax hike.
“It’s too soon for the Government to be pulling the plug on vital support for struggling households and businesses without any comprehensive career transition or welfare support in place.
“It is the time for the Chancellor to appreciate the real extent of the challenges facing businesses and workers and put in place adequate support, giving thousands of local households and businesses the security they need.”