OVER 43,000 people in Bolton are relying on the government to pay their wages after their jobs were impacted by coronavirus.

Almost 34,000 have been put on furlough by businesses in the borough since the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was launched on April 20.

A further 9,400 people have been paid almost £24m through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme rolled out in May.

Cllr David Greenhalgh, leader of Bolton Council, said: “It’s welcome news that the government schemes have protected more than 43,000 residents across the borough, but clearly no one wishes to be in this situation.

"The support has protected workers in our local businesses and those who are self employed during what continues to be a difficult time.

“As we slowly come out of lockdown those who have benefited will hopefully soon be able to return to employment in a safe and secure manner with social distancing and safety measures in place.

“As a council we have also been at the forefront, by supporting 4775 businesses with grants, totalling £54.3m."

Bolton has one of the highest furlough rates across Greater Manchester, falling behind Wigan, where 37,100 people were placed on furlough, and Manchester with 62,200 jobs supported by the government.

Neighbouring Bury has seen the lowest number of jobs saved by the scheme, with just 23,000 people furloughed.

Although the CJRS will run until the end of October, changes from July 1 will allow employers to bring furloughed employees back to work for limited shift patterns whilst still being able to claim wages for the usual hours that haven't been worked from the scheme.

Cllr Greenhalgh added: “We are doing everything we can to support the vital rebuilding of our economy and town centres. Our Business Bolton team continues to offer support, advice and guidance.

"We will continue to be there for you and our businesses every step of the way, as we proactively look at options to encourage shoppers to buy local and support our borough’s businesses.

“We ask people to stay alert, use their common sense and follow the social distancing guidelines.”

Non-essential shops have now been allowed to reopen following a change in government guidance.

The reopening is expected to help firms ease their dependence on the furlough scheme, before the government drops to covering 70 per cent of wages for those on the scheme in September, with businesses expected to cover the ten per cent change.

Firms must pay employees for any hours worked, even if the employee is on the government's furlough scheme.