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HMRC: 211,700 Northern Ireland workers furloughed

HMRC (Her Majesty Revenue and Customs) sign in London, UK.
Ryan McAleer

THE number of workers in the north furloughed during the coronavirus lockdown stood at 211,700 at the end of May, with another 69,000 self-employed people claiming emergency support, official government data has shown.

The figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirm 30 per cent of all people in employment here are now being subsidized by UK Government Covid-19 support streams.

Providing a regional breakdown of the Job Retention Scheme for the first time, HMRC showed that 44,000 workers were furloughed across the four Belfast constituencies at the end of May.

Mid Ulster topped the constituency table with 14,800, just ahead of Upper Bann on 14,400.

In terms of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), HMRC confirmed that £198m had been paid out at the end of May, with a 73 per cent take-up rate across the north.

The highest number of applications came from South Down (6,800), with the lowest in East Belfast. The average payment was £2,900.

The HMRC figures follow on from a report by Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre this week, which found that young people have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It estimated that unemployment among 16-24 year-olds could rise from eight per cent to 26 per cent this year.

The furlough scheme closed to new applications on June 10. Payments will continue until the end of October, with employers increasingly required to increase their contributions from August.

Meanwhile, the number of VAT and/or PAYE registered businesses operating in Northern Ireland increased by 600 (0.8 per cent) to 76,090 in the year to March 31 2020.

Services remains the largest sector, accounting for 55 per cent of all businesses. The number of construction firms reached a six-year high (10,545) but remained 8.3 per cent below the high of 11,495 in 2010.

READ MORE: Under 25s disproportionately hit by furlough and lay offs, says new Ulster University report

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