Speaking in the NI Assembly during a debate on the issue, Mr Middleton said: “There is no doubt that the Job Retention Scheme has prevented many businesses from closing their doors and has kept many people in employment.
“The figures show that roughly 240,000 people were furloughed by mid July – that’s a significant number given the size of our population.
“In addition to this, the Self-employed income scheme has had over 76,000 claims made in Northern Ireland.
“Based on these figures, that means that around 316,000 jobs and self-employed received support through the retention schemes. That’s 36% of those in employment.
“Many of those who remain furloughed are at risk of redundancy. This presents a significant problem as the Job retention scheme comes to an end.
“As efforts have been made to kick-start our economy, it is evident that for some industries, it is going to take much longer than hoped for to recover.
“This is through no fault of those involved in these sectors, but simply dictated by the nature of their business and the restrictions that continue to be in place for the safety of the public.
“In a few short weeks, many thousands will be facing the prospect of unemployment and their livelihoods thrown into chaos.
“It is vitally important that our national government address the furlough issue and the scheme.
“This could be done in a targeted way, encouraging businesses back to work in a safe manner.
“We need action, and those affected need clarity,” added Mr Middleton.Tags: