Furlough claims fell in March as economy prepared to reopen

Pub server
Pub server (PA Wire)
12:48pm, Thu 06 May 2021
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The number of people furloughed on Government support in the UK dropped in March as businesses across the country prepared to reopen.

Provisional figures show 14% of eligible people in the UK were furloughed on March 31, compared to 16% a month earlier.

It marks the last set of data before pubs and non-essential shops were allowed to open for the first time in months.

In April, thousands of businesses across the UK that had been closed since the start of the year welcomed back customers and staff.

The latest figures do not include this period.

They show that 1.06 million people in the accommodation and food services sector were furloughed on March 31, down by just 130,000 from the end of February.

Closed restaurants (PA Wire)

As before, women were more likely to be furloughed than men, while workers aged under 18 were furloughed at the highest rates.

Staff aged 18 to 24 and those over 65 were also more likely to be furloughed than the average UK worker.

The furlough programme – called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by the Government – was launched in March last year as the pandemic forced the country to go into lockdown.

The Government said it would pay 80% of the salaries of staff whose employers were unable to stay open because of the restrictions imposed by ministers.

It aimed to project jobs and ensure people could survive the pandemic financially, with furloughed workers returning to work once it was safe to do so.

As the pandemic stretched on, the furlough scheme ended up being much more costly than initially anticipated.

By April 14 the Government had received furlough claims worth £61.3 billion from 1.3 million employers across the country.

A total of 11.5 million people have been put on Government-supported furlough at some point within the last 14 months.

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