Furlough take-up higher in low income areas

Blackpool is one of the constituencies with the highest use of furlough, and lowest average weekly wage
Jonathan Nicholson/NurPhoto/PA Image

Furlough has successfully targeted lower income areas of the UK, according to analysis of take-up of the government’s job retention scheme.

Accounting firm Moore looked at 632 constituencies across the UK and found that the 20 constituencies with the highest number of workers on furlough averaged £576 per week in wages prior to the crisis.

The bottom 20 constituencies, meanwhile, have an average weekly wage of £717.

Blackpool South, which ranked fifth in terms of usage of the furlough scheme, has the second-lowest average weekly wage in the UK, for example, at £450.

Other areas with high usage of the furlough scheme included Ealing Southall and Feltham and Heston, which are both close to Heathrow Airport – an employer that was impacted heavily by the pandemic as flights were grounded.

Moore also notes that Crawley, close to Gatwick Airport, is one of the top 10 users of the scheme.

Unsurprisingly, areas with fewer workers accessing furlough included wealthy London constituencies such as Hampstead, Islington, Westminster and Richmond. These areas play host to many employees working in sectors less affected, such as financial services and IT, Moore said.

In Islington South and Finsbury, for example, the average weekly wage is £870, but only 14.6% of working constituents received furlough support.

Sue Lucas, a partner at the firm, said the figures showed the furlough scheme was “doing a good job in allocating assistance to many of the financially weakest parts of the country”.

She added: “While there is much work left to do for both businesses and the government in bringing employees back from furlough and avoiding redundancies, as a ‘first aid’ measure, the scheme can be judged a success so far.”

From Wednesday (1 July), employers can place workers on the scheme on a more flexible basis, bringing workers back part-time if they wish.

Top 5 constituencies by use of the furlough scheme

Constituency % of employees furloughed Average weekly wage 
Brent Central  45.4 £590
Ealing, Southall 39.4 £610
Feltham and Heston 37.8 £560
Westmoreland and Lonsdale 35.6 £530
Blackpool South 33.8 £450


Bottom 5 constituencies by use of the furlough scheme

Constituency % of employees furloughed Average weekly wage 
Sheffield Hallam 14.6 £670
Cardiff North 14.5 £630
Hampstead and Kilburn 13.3 £850
Dulwich & West Norwood 12.5 £730
Islington South & Finsbury 11.7 £870 

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