Nearly 350,000 Londoners were still on leave at the end of June despite the impending easing of lockdown restrictions, new government figures show.
Although the number of employees on leave fell from May to June, London still has the highest participation rate in the government’s coronavirus job retention program, with 9% of eligible jobs on leave compared to 7% in the nationwide.
Nine of the ten local authorities in England that use the leave scheme the most are in London, with Newham and Hounslow being the highest at 12%.
Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Haringey, Hillingdon, Redbridge and Waltham Forest are the other boroughs with the largest number of employees on leave.
But with all of Covid’s legal restrictions now lifted as of July 19, the leave scheme is expected to end before being removed entirely in September.
A spokesman for London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the program was still a ‘lifeline’ for nearly 350,000 Londoners and that there was always the risk of a ‘cliff edge’ once the program ended.
Mr Khan’s spokesperson said: ‘A reduction in the number of users of the program can only be truly welcomed if it is accompanied by proof that Londoners are able to return to safe work and ministers are committed to providing longer-term support to businesses – particularly the hospitality and cultural sectors that do so much to support London’s economy.
“This weekend, the vacation schedule gets even smaller before approaching the edge of a cliff in September. We cannot let those who still rely on the system be forgotten. ”
Across England, the accommodation and food services sector has the highest number of people on leave, while London has a disproportionately higher number of people on leave in the construction industry compared to the rest of the country.
Nick Bowes, managing director of the Center for London think tank, warned that London’s economy is “particularly delicate” and that “huge challenges” remain despite the lifting of lockdown restrictions.
Mr Bowes said: ‘London continues to have a disproportionate number of its workforce on leave compared to all other parts of the country, as well as the highest unemployment rate.
“While the leave rate in the capital has declined, there are still huge challenges to get central London back on its feet as it is hospitality, arts and construction workers who are most likely to always be on leave.
“What we also don’t know is how many of those no longer on leave have returned to work or how many may now be out of work.
“The economy of central London is particularly delicate at the moment, and the government must recognize that a slower recovery for London will also jeopardize the recovery of the whole country.”
The latest figures from the UK Treasury show that as of June 30 there were the fewest people on leave since the start of the pandemic, with around 500,000 fewer on leave compared to May.
From August 1, employers will have to contribute 20 percent of the wages of staff on leave, from 10 percent.
Since its launch in March 2020, the leave program has supported a total of 11.6 million jobs.
HM Treasury has been approached for comment.
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This notice was published: 2021-08-02 11:29:28