A new survey shows half of businesses expect to make redundancies after the furlough scheme ends and another suggests significant levels of fraud in the use of the furlough scheme.
Half of UK businesses say they will have to reduce their workforce within three months of the furlough scheme ending.
Of 503 business leaders surveyed by YouGov, just 34% said they would not lay any staff off, while 21% said they would cut 10 or more jobs.
The study also found that 48% of bosses believe the government’s response to COVID-19 in regard to business has been good, compared to 38% who said it has been bad. While eight in 10 respondents expect the economy to be in worse shape in a year than it was before the pandemic, six in 10 believe their own business will be in the same condition or better than it was before the coronavirus crisis.
Some industries will be worse hit than others. An Oxford Economics report warns, for instance, that Britain’s creative industries face a projected £74bn drop in revenue and the loss of 400,000 jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The sector is expected to be hit twice as hard as the wider UK economy.
Caroline Norbury, chair of the Creative Industries Federation, said the UK urgently needs a cultural renewal fund to help industries that will be the last to return to work, businesses that cannot operate fully owing to physical distancing, and creative professionals who continue to fall through gaps in government support measures.
Meanwhile, a survey by Crossland Employment Solicitors shows that a third of furloughed employees have been asked to carry out work while receiving funds under the UK government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.
Despite ministers warning that employers would be committing fraud if staff were made to work while furloughed, the poll saw 34% of respondents say they had been asked to return to work. A third of furloughed employees had been asked to carry on doing their usual job, with 29% asked to undertake more administrative tasks and a fifth asked to either cover someone else’s job or to work for a company linked to their employer while on furlough. HMRC says that as of June 14th it had received 3,079 reports of fraudulent furlough-related claims.