Sadiq Khan urges Londoners to ‘retrain for free’ amid fears of worsening joblessness and poverty

Sadiq Khan urges Londoners to ‘retrain for free’ amid fears of worsening joblessness and poverty

Sadiq Khan is urging low paid and unemployed Londoners to take up free retraining schemes and help address skills shortages as the government’s furlough scheme approaches its end.

Following an election campaign pledge to help Londoners secure jobs in expanding sectors of the economy, the Mayor announced earlier this month an £11 million investment in adult education and job brokerage services.

In a statement today, Khan warned that the end of furlough – official name, the coronavirus job retention scheme – “may signal the end of a regular income for many Londoners”, singling out the hard-hit hospitality and food service sectors as likely to shed hundreds of jobs from next month.

There is an emphasis on emerging “green economy” industries. “I’m offering Londoners the chance to retrain or upskill for free and gain qualifications in futureproof industries that are key to London’s recovery from the pandemic,” the Mayor said. “This funding will help many people find their feet after what has been an extraordinarily difficult 18 months.”

Official figures show that London has nearly 300,000 workers on the furlough scheme, accounting for around eight per cent of those eligible and representing the highest uptake in the country, for which the overall average is five per cent. City Hall says that in the boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Redbridge and Hounslow furlough rates have reached 10 per cent.

Khan’s comments come against a background of concern that London faces an autumn of worsening joblessness and deepening poverty. Recent government figures about Universal Credit claimants showed that, as of July, close to 400,000 of the nearly one million Londoners receiving the benefit were in work. A £20-a-week boost to Universal Credit introduced to help people through the pandemic is also due to end next month.

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