Over half of furloughed UK staff back at work – think tank

The Resolution Foundation estimated that the number of furloughed UK workers is ‘certainly below 4.5 million’ and possibly as low as 3 million. (AP)
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Updated 01 August 2020

Over half of furloughed UK staff back at work – think tank

  • Furlough scheme started alongside the coronavirus lockdown in March
  • Resolution Foundation estimates the number of furloughed workers is ‘certainly below 4.5 million’

LONDON: More than half of the roughly 9 million British employees who were put on furlough during the coronavirus lockdown have already returned to work, the Resolution Foundation think tank estimated on Saturday.
Britain’s finance ministry has said furlough payments totaling $42 billion so far have been made in respect of a cumulative 9.5 million jobs, but does not publish figures on the current number of furloughed workers.
Based on an analysis of surveys of businesses and households from the Office for National Statistics, the Resolution Foundation estimated that the number of furloughed workers is “certainly below 4.5 million” and possibly as low as 3 million.
The furlough scheme started alongside the lockdown in March, and is due to end in October, after which many economists fear unemployment could rise sharply, surpassing the peak seen after the financial crisis.
Official data on Thursday showed big differences between sectors, with more than 90 percent of information technology and sewerage workers not furloughed, but almost half of staff in the hospitality, arts and leisure sectors still needing help.
“These workers face a heightened risk of unemployment as the Job Retention Scheme starts to be phased out,” Resolution Foundation economist Dan Tomlinson said.
From this month, employers must begin to contribute to the cost of paying furloughed workers, who receive 80 percent of their normal salary.
Last week, Britain’s National Institute of Economic and Social Research and the opposition Labour Party called for the program to be extended until the middle of next year.
But finance minister Rishi Sunak has repeatedly rejected calls for an extension, and his deputy Steve Barclay said workers’ skills were likely to degrade if they spent more than eight months off work, waiting for a job that might not return.
Employers will receive $1,300 for each furloughed worker they take back and keep employed until the end of January.


Iraq pledges full compliance with OPEC+ oil cuts

Updated 50 min 10 sec ago

Iraq pledges full compliance with OPEC+ oil cuts

  • Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, the Saudi Arabian energy minister, and his Iraqi counterpart, Ihsan Ismail, reaffirmed their commitment to the cuts
  • Under tough economic pressure, Iraq had struggled to meet the full cuts, but Ismail promised to reach 100 percent this month

DUBAI: Iraq has pledged to meet in full its obligations under the OPEC+ oil production cuts that have been credited with rebalancing global crude markets after the mayhem of April’s “Black Monday” when prices crashed around the world.

In a telephone call between Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Saudi Arabian energy minister, and his Iraqi counterpart, Ihsan Ismail, the two men reaffirmed their commitment to the cuts, which have helped to pull the oil price back from historic lows.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, has more than doubled in the past three months.

Under tough economic pressure, Iraq had struggled to meet the full cuts, but Ismail promised to reach 100 percent this month. Iraq has now committed itself to an ambitious program of compensation to make up for past overproduction.

Iraq will further reduce production by 400,000 barrels per day this month and next, Ismail said, bringing its total cut to 1.25 million barrels daily. That level of cuts could be adjusted when final estimates of compliance are assessed by the six “secondary sources” that monitor OPEC+ output.

“The two ministers stressed that efforts by OPEC+ countries toward meeting production cuts, and the extra cuts under the compensation regime, will enhance oil market stability, help accelerate the rebalancing of global oil markets, and send a constructive signal to the market,” a joint statement added.

Prince Abdulaziz thanked Ismail for his efforts to improve Iraq’s compliance with the agreement.

Iraq had been the biggest laggard in the move toward 100 percent compliance by the 23 members of the OPEC+ alliance.

Officials in Riyadh told Arab News that Iraqi compliance had reached about 90 percent, a high level by the country’s previous standards but still short of the new targets.

Saudi Arabia has been forcefully advocating full compliance with the targets in an effort to remove oil from the global market as demand is still badly affected by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The oil market will be under the spotlight later this month when the joint ministerial monitoring committee of OPEC+ energy ministers convenes virtually in the most recent of the monthly meetings set up to oversee the state of the global industry.

Oil had another strong week on global markets, breaking through the $45 barrier for the first time since early March on signs that the glut in US oil stocks was easing, as well as reductions in the amount of “floating crude” stored in tankers on the world’s oceans.

The price spiked on news of the Beirut explosion, which some analysts believed could herald a deterioration in regional security and a threat to oil exports.

Brent crude was trading at $44.70 on international markets.