HMRC figures reveal that the number of employments furloughed has fallen by 1.2 million between the end of April and the end of May 2021. 

New provisional data released by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show that employers are slowly weaning off the furlough scheme as restrictions ease.

With data covering the one month period between 30th April and 30th May 2021, the figures show the number of employments on furlough has decreased by approximately 1.2 million.

At the end of April, the number of jobs furloughed stood at 3.5 million which has since fallen to just 2.4 million.

Similarly, the number of employers who had staff on furlough has fallen by 5 per cent in this one-month period, with only three in 10 employers (30 per cent) currently having employees on furlough.

However, the proportion of employments on partial furlough increased from 40 per cent at the end of April to 48 per cent at the close of May, showing that some jobs may have bee moved from full to partial furlough during this time.

This comes just as employer contributions have been changed from the start of this month.

From the 1st July, employers are expected to contribute 10 per cent towards furloughed employees’ wages, leaving the Government to pay the remaining 70 per cent.

From the 1st August, employer contributions rise to 20 per cent before the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is phased out entirely by the end of September.

HMRC figures reveal that a cumulative total of 11.6 million jobs have been supported by the CJRS at various times.

The industries which were shown to have the highest rate of employees on furlough included passenger air transport (57 per cent), hotels and similar accommodation (57 per cent), travel agency and tour operator activities (51 per cent), photographic activities (43 per cent) and beverage serving activities (43 per cent).

Other industries included arts and entertainment and amusement and recreation activities.

In addition, contrary to previous data findings, more employments with male job holders were on furlough compared to those held by female staff.

The analysis states that this demonstrates the sizeable decreases in the number of jobs on furlough in sectors such as accommodation and food which have a high proportion of female employees.

Novo Constare, Co-founder of the online marketplace for flexible workers, Indeed Flex, commented:

The Government has begun, very gently, to roll up the furlough safety net.

The gradual withdrawal of the lifeline will force thousands of struggling businesses into some tough decisions in the coming weeks – whether to pay more to keep on furloughed staff, or to cut their losses and let them go.

But with official data showing just 6 per cent of workers are still on furlough – the lowest level since the scheme began – the impact of the scheme’s withdrawal will be focused chiefly on a few sectors that are still effectively prevented from trading – such as travel, theatres and events.

*These statistics were obtained from the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Statistics: 1st July 2021’.