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Lack of protections for shielded workers is “major missing piece” of furlough scheme, says Citizens Advice

29 Mai 2020

Citizens Advice has responded to the latest announcement by the Chancellor on changes to the Job Retention Scheme.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“The furlough scheme has protected millions of jobs and incomes, but the failure to give additional protection for the shielded group means there is still a major missing piece of the puzzle. Many in this group fear their jobs will be the first to go as the scheme starts to wind down. 

“One in ten people who are clinically extremely vulnerable are continuing to work outside the home despite the risk to their health, and thousands more are struggling to make ends meet because they have been denied furlough. No one should face this impossible choice.

“As long as the shielded group are asked to remain at home, they and those they live with should have a right to be furloughed and employers should be exempt from contributing to the cost of the scheme for these employees.”

Web searches show the changing picture of people’s worries

  • Searches for the word 'redundancy' on the Citizens Advice website in May so far are up 35% on April (comparison is between search numbers for 1st-28th May and April 1-30).

  • Searches for the word 'redundancy' on the Citizens Advice website in May so far are up 51% on February (May 1-28).

  • Redundancy has gone from being the 7th most searched word on the Citizens Advice website in February to the 2nd most searched word in May. It was 3rd in March, 4th in April.

  • The number one most searched word in May was furlough (it was also number one in April).


  • The charity has given one-to-one employment advice to people on 118,000 issues since lockdown, a 95% increase on the same period last year. 

  • Analysis of around 2,000 of all employment cases Citizens Advice has seen since 14 April showed over 70% of those who are shielding or are at higher risk from coronavirus - such as those who are pregnant or have diabetes - were not furloughed.

Research from Citizens Advice

  • Four in ten (41%) of those in the shielded group have lost at least 20% of their income since the coronavirus outbreak began

  • More than a quarter (27%) of those in the shielded group have lost 60% of their income or more

  • As many as 1 in 10 (12%) in the shielded group are working outside of the home despite this potentially putting their health at risk

Insights from frontline advisers on the shielded group

  • Employment cases reported by frontline advisers include people who are undergoing chemotherapy or who have serious lung conditions and have either been denied furlough or asked to return to work.

  • Frontline staff say those in the shielded group who are choosing to work outside the home are often doing so because they are fearful they will lose their jobs if they try to negotiate with their employer.

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
  2. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
  3. The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
  4. Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
  5. Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit
  7. For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 to talk in Welsh.
  8. We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
  9. Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.