Revealed: How many people in Suffolk and Essex are on furlough

Shoppers back in Ipswich town centre, but many retail staff had been furloughed in recent months Pic

Shoppers back in Ipswich town centre, but many retail staff had been furloughed in recent months Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

More than a quarter of a million workers in Suffolk and Essex have been furloughed during the coronavirus lockdown, new figures reveal.

In Suffolk, 85,700 people have been registered on the Job Retention Scheme (JRS), while in Essex it is 175,000.

Business chiefs say the furlough scheme has been a success, but have urged the Government to now work with firms to ensure there isn’t an unemployment ‘cliff edge’ when it ends in October.

The JRS was brought in to save millions of jobs and businesses during lockdown by issuing grants to cover up to 80% of people’s wages, up to the value of £2,500 a month.

Across the East of England, 709,600 people are on the scheme.

In the Bury St Edmunds parliamentary constituency, a total of 14,000 people are currently on furlough, in West Suffolk 13,900 and in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich 11,200.

In Ipswich there are 13,200 people on furlough, Suffolk Coastal 11,000, South Suffolk 10,900 and in Waveney 11,500. Colchester has 21,500 people on the scheme.

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John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, has praised the national business community for ensuring its success.

He said: “The furlough provisions of the JRS were introduced thanks to concerted campaigning by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and other chambers in the British Chambers of Commerce network to give companies some much-needed financial headroom during the lockdown period and beyond.

“These figures show that the JRS has been a great lobbying success.

“It has ensured that tens of thousands of roles in Suffolk have been preserved during the last few months: an essential contribution to any future, sustainable, recovery.”

He added: “With the furlough scheme being tapered and coming to an end in the autumn, it is imperative that the government works with businesses to ensure that there isn’t an unemployment cliff edge at the end of the year with resulting higher unemployment.

“We will be talking to our local MPs and relevant ministers around the potential different approaches for different sectors to minimise any adverse impact of the JRS permanently closing in October.”

The chamber was due to meet with the Department for Work and Pensions yesterday to discuss longer term measures to mitigate against any potential unemployment spike later this year.

When Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the furlough scheme to October last month, he said: “Our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has protected millions of jobs and businesses across the UK during the outbreak – and I’ve been clear that I want to avoid a cliff edge and get people back to work in a measured way.

“This extension and the changes we are making to the scheme will give flexibility to businesses while protecting the livelihoods of the British people and our future economic prospects.”

MORE: Suffolk businesses call for greater furlough flexibility