Cost of furlough peaks at £70bn

04 November 2021
Commenting on the publication of the latest Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), Carolyn Brown, head of client legal service at RSM UK said:

‘As the furlough scheme came to an end on 30 September, we now know it paid out an eye-watering £70bn, supporting 11.7m jobs of those working for 1.3m employers over a 19-month period.

‘With 1.14m jobs still furlough when CJRS ended, it’s still unknown whether furloughed staff have gone back to work, been made redundant, retired or are unable to work due to ill health.

‘Encouragingly advance notifications to Government by employers planning more than 20 redundancies have not materialised with many sectors saying that they made the redundancies they needed months ago. However, the proportion of the larger employers (with 250 or more jobs) using the CJRS reduced from 58% in February 2021 to 22% at the end of September 2021, and we know the scheme has been primarily supporting smaller employers. Capturing redundancies under 20 is more difficult and the ONS statistics on changes to the pattern of employment after September will not be with us for a few weeks yet.

‘In addition, if the Employment Tribunal system sees an uptick of age discrimination, disability discrimination and unfair dismissal awards from previously furloughed employees terminated by their employers, then we may start to see a fuller picture of what happened to the furloughed employees after the scheme ended.

‘Employers will now need a twin focus between, on the one hand, protecting themselves from these claims from their, now, ex-employees and, retaining through their own careful furlough claims’ reviews, the valuable furlough funds they have received as HMRC’s proactively audits and reviews claims.’