Sunderland has highest number of furloughed staff in Tyne and Wear, figures show
Wearside has the greatest number of people on furlough, according government statistics.
Figures from HM Revenue and Customs show that 32,400 people across Sunderland City Council’s area have been put on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
It was announced on Friday, March 20, three days before Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK would be going into lockdown, to support employers who have been unable to continue business as usual due to the coronavirus outbreak and helping them to avoid job losses.
A total of 282,500 people have been supported through the scheme across the North East region of England – each area's figure is based on where people live, rather than where they work.
A breakdown of the figures - released officially for the first time and showing claims made up to Sunday, May 31 – show across Tyne and Wear 125,000 people have been placed on furlough.
South Tyneside has 16,300 workers on the scheme, Newcastle 30,300, Gateshead 24,200 and North Tyneside 22,200.
A further breakdown shows that within the constituency areas of Sunderland, Sunderland Central has 10,700 people on furlough, Washington and Sunderland West has 11,500 and Houghton and Sunderland South has 10,200.
Paul Swinney, director of policy and research with the independent think tank Centre for Cities, said the fact Nissan and other automotive companies are based on Wearside are likely to be the reason why Sunderland’s figure is higher than others – while a national breakdown of industries is given, localised numbers are not available.
Mr Swinney also highlighted the fact that Sunderland also has the highest percentage of employed people on furlough, with 26%, while County Durham, which has 55,800 people on the scheme, has 23% in comparison.
It found Sunderland was fourth nationally out of the 62 cities his organisation looks at, with Slough, Burnley and Crawley ahead of them – both southern locations see high numbers employed at airports and associated businesses.
Mr Swinney said: “We know quite a lot of companies around Sunderland have used the furlough scheme and on the one hand that is a concern that there is a high percentage out there and what does that mean for the future, but on the other hand, they have used the furlough scheme to keep people employed and are expecting to pick up where they left off.”
Of the 55,800 people on the scheme in County Durham, 8,900 are in the Easington constituency and 8,400 in Durham City.
The scheme provides employers with financial support up to 80% of a salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month per employee, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contribution on that subsidised furlough pay.