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Furlough numbers have fallen to their lowest level this year, according to official statistics published by HMRC , as the number of people relying on the scheme fell to 3.4 million.
The figures show that more than one million fewer employees accessed this government support across March and April, with some of the biggest falls in the under 18s and 18 to 24 age groups.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 11.5 million employees and 1.3 million employers have now been supported by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
New figures also released show that 2.8 million individuals benefitted from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme which has provided over £24 billion in support.
There are also other reasons to be optimistic about the outlook for the labour market, as ONS survey results released today estimate that the number of employees on furlough fell even further in early May.
HMRC data released last month showed that the number of payrolled employees jumped by nearly 100,000 in April.
Alongside the furlough and self-employed schemes, the Kickstart scheme is creating thousands of new jobs for young people and a range of business grants and loans have provided a bridge so that businesses could make it through the pandemic.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:
“Today’s data is another welcome sign that our Plan for Jobs is working and that the route we have taken is the right one.
“These figures show the scheme is naturally winding down as people get back to work and take advantage of the opportunities out there in the jobs market.
“We’ll continue to support those who need it through to September but I am hopeful that we’ll see more people moving back in to work as we continue on the road to recovery”
The furlough scheme will continue until the end of September, to provide support well beyond the end of the roadmap.
The government is taking a tapered approach, with employers starting to make a small contribution to paying their employees who are still on furlough from next month.
As the economy reopens and demand returns, the government will ask employers to make a small contribution of 10% towards the cost of paying for unworked hours from July. This employer contribution will increase to 20% in August and September.
This is the same approach the government successfully introduced last summer and the majority of employees went back to work.
As the economy continues to recover and demand returns, the government will shift its focus towards helping the economy to adapt and supporting people to grab hold of new opportunities, rather than keeping workers on furlough indefinitely.
The latest HMRC statistics on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme can be found online.
HM Treasury Press release