Thousands of jobs in Perth and Kinross still supported by furlough with scheme preparing to end

By Douglas Dickie

Thousands of jobs in Perth and Kinross were still being supported by furlough at the start of last month with the scheme set to finish in two weeks.

According to provisional figures, 2900 workers in the region were still being paid by the UK Government’s Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme.

Since it was launched in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the scheme has helped support 27,200 jobs across Perth and Kinross.

But, with the majority of COVID restrictions now lifted, and with a majority of the country now double vaccinated, the scheme is set to end by October.

The figures were highlighted this week by Murdo Fraser MSP, of the Conservatives, who claimed the emphasis must be on getting people back into work.

However, Perth and North Perthshire SNP MP Pete Wishart said the scheme should be extended.

Mr Fraser, who is based in Perth and covers the Mid Scotland and Fife region, said: “The UK Government’s furlough scheme has protected vital jobs and livelihoods across Perth and Kinross throughout the pandemic and is continuing to do so.

“With restrictions having eased over the last month, it is welcome to see more employees continuing to return to work in the area, thanks to the UK Government’s ambitious Plan for Jobs.

“There must continue to be a focus on getting people back into work and accelerating our economic recovery.”

However, Mr Wishart told the Perthshire Advertiser it was “absolutely vital” that support schemes like furlough remained in place for “as long as is required”.

He added: “Furlough has provided an essential lifeline for businesses and employees throughout the pandemic. If we did not have it in place many, many jobs would have been lost and many businesses forced to close.

“With the impending closure of the scheme it is inevitable that there will be those who will lose their jobs.”

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