Over 600,000 teenagers furloughed

Figures underline urgency of Chancellor's efforts to head off a new youth unemployment crisis

Rishi Sunak
The Chancellor has launched a Kickstart scheme to encourage firms to take on younger workers

More than 600,000 teenagers have been furloughed under the Government's job retention scheme, the latest official figures have shown.

Some 9.4m jobs have been protected so far under the £60bn scheme but 17-year-old girls in the workforce are the most likely group to find themselves furloughed. The HMRC data showed 87,200 or 61pc of 142,400 eligible jobs being paid for by the taxpayer as of June 30, the highest of any age or sex category.

A total of 640,000 teenagers have been placed on furlough but their disproportionate presence in sectors hardest hit by the lockdown such as retail and hospitality has sparked fears of a new youth unemployment crisis. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week unveiled a new Kickstart Scheme to encourage employers to take on younger workers when furlough is wound up in October.

On average 47pc of working teenagers have been furloughed compared to 31pc of the 30.5m eligible employees in the UK overall. 

The figures also showed 73pc or 1.6m of 2.1m jobs in accommodation and food services are now furloughed as Mr Sunak also attempts to aid the sector with an August voucher scheme and a temporary VAT cut.

Employers in the sector have made £4.1bn in claims, second only in cash terms to retailers who have twice as many eligible employees.

Mr Sunak has offered a £1,000 bonus to those who keep on furloughed staff until January although he faced fire from MPs yesterday who called it "badly timed and poorly targeted".