This is how many thousands of people have been furloughed in Blackpool

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More than one in three eligible jobs in Blackpool have been furloughed since March, figures reveal, with hundreds more added to the scheme last month.

The Institute for Public Policy Research and Resolution Foundation think tanks are calling for the Government to extend or modify the Job Retention Scheme beyond October, to avoid triggering a spike in unemployment.

Figures from HM Revenue and Customs show around 20,900 claims to furlough jobs were made in Blackpool by the end of July – 900 more than at the end of June.

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At 36 per cent of all eligible jobs, it means Blackpool is one of the areas most reliant on the scheme in the UK.

Blackpool has seen more than one in three jobs furloughedBlackpool has seen more than one in three jobs furloughed
Blackpool has seen more than one in three jobs furloughed

During this time, the Government paid 80 per cent of employees’ wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month per employee.

Between the launch of the Job Retention Scheme in March and the end of last month, 9.6 million jobs across the UK had been placed on furlough, amounting to £30.9bn in claims.

From September, the Government’s contribution will drop to 70 per cent of wages, before the scheme is expected to end in October.

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But the Institute for Public Policy Research said that would be a “historic mistake”, and an extension is needed.

Chancellor Rishi SunakChancellor Rishi Sunak
Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Carsten Jung, IPPR senior economist, said: “The jobs recovery is real, but it looks slow and fragile. Reforming and extending the scheme now could prevent jobs losses and boost the economy in this time of need.”

He added that transforming the furlough scheme to focus on job sharing could save 2 million jobs from being lost.

Nye Cominetti, senior economist at the think tank, said going forward the Chancellor’s “immediate priority” should be on the hardest-hit sectors, or he risks an unemployment spike this autumn.

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A Treasury spokeswoman said “We’ve been clear that we can’t sustain this situation indefinitely but the end of the furlough scheme is not the end of our support for jobs.

“For businesses that can successfully bring furloughed employees back to work, this includes a £1,000 job retention bonus.”

As is the case across the UK, the industry most reliant on the scheme in the North West is hospitality, with 79% of eligible workers furloughed by the end of July.

Also set to end in October is the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which allowed the self-employed to claim a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits between March and May, up to £7,500.

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Separate figures from HMRC show around 5,500 people in Blackpool had applied to the scheme by the end of July – 81% of eligible workers.

They can now apply for a second and final grant, worth 70% of profits and capped at £6,570, before the scheme closes on October 19.

But the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed said over a million freelancers across the UK are still not able to get support.

Derek Cribb, IPSE's chief executive, said: "With the threat of a second wave and further lockdowns looming, Government must urgently consider ways to support these desperate forgotten freelancers.”