Great Britain

Andrea Leadsom claims furloughed employees 'don't really want to go back to work'

The former business secretary warned people are reluctant to return to work because furlough has been “great” for them. Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Any Questions, Dame Andrea said people were fearful of returning to work.

It was estimated 5.1 million people were on furlough in January but this has shrunk to around 3.4 million as of data aggregated in April.

However, experts have predicted there may be an unemployment bounce when the scheme ends in September.

Earlier this month, Dan Tomlinson, Senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “With around one-in-six young workers still on furlough at the end of April, today’s figures are a stark reminder of the risk of rising unemployment when the furlough scheme ends.

“The government must do all it can to ensure those workers find work as quickly as possible.”

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One report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggested older workers will be especially hard hit when the scheme ends.

Dame Leadsom continued to say that some businesses in her constituency “simply can't get people to come back to work.”

She said: “They can't get staff because people have, to be perfectly frank, become used to being on furlough”.

Dame Leadsom added the issues “have very real consequences for our economy.

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“If we can't get our economy to bounce back then we can't start to pay this huge bill that we've already incurred for this lockdown, and that's critical at this point.”

She said: “For some people they're just terrified, so it's like, 'I've been on furlough for so long I really can't quite face going back to the office' and employers are rightly saying, 'well, you need to'.

“So there's that issue, the mental health issue, the fear of it.

“For other people, it's like, 'well actually being on furlough in lockdown has been great for me - I've got a garden, I've been able to go out walking every day, I've got great vegetables growing, I don't really want to go back to work, maybe I'll think about part-time or I'm going to retire early'.”

The scheme, which has helped millions of people over the coronavirus pandemic, is able to cover up to 80% of an employee’s salary for the hours they cannot work up to £2,500 per month.

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