Thousands fewer Buckinghamshire workers on furlough in April

But economist warns of risk of rising unemployment when the furlough scheme ends

Monday, 7th June 2021, 12:27 pm
Updated Monday, 7th June 2021, 12:28 pm

Thousands fewer workers in Buckinghamshire were on furlough in April, as coronavirus restrictions started easing across the UK.

Many pub, restaurant and shop workers returned to their roles that month as outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail opened for the first time since December.

However, with restrictions still in place, businesses in other sectors continue to be hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

HM Revenue and Customs figures show that 27,800 jobs held by workers living in Buckinghamshire were furloughed in April.

That was 7,200 fewer than the 35,000 furloughed at the end of March.

The figures also show that in April in Buckinghamshire:

Furloughed jobs in the retail sector dropped by 1,930, to 4,820

In the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, 760 fewer jobs were supported by the scheme, however 1,950 were still furloughed in April

The number of hospitality jobs furloughed fell by 1,190, to 5,790

Through the scheme, the government pays 80 per cent of a worker’s wages, up to £2,500 per month, if they haven’t been able to work due to the impact of the pandemic.

However, employers will pay a larger contribution from July.

Across the UK, the total number of jobs furloughed fell by 900,000 during April to 3.4 million at the end of the month, the figures show.

Dan Tomlinson, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, which focuses on living standards, said the drop in the number of people on furlough was "encouraging".

He added that it is an indicator that the labour market – as well as the wider economy – is recovering quickly.

“But with around one in six young workers still on furlough at the end of April, today’s figures are a stark reminder of the risk of rising unemployment when the furlough scheme ends," he said.

"The government must do all it can to ensure those workers find work as quickly as possible.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We’ll continue to support those who need it through to September but I am hopeful that we’ll see more people moving back into work as we continue on the road to recovery.”

At a recent four-nation coronavirus recovery summit, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for the UK government to extend the furlough scheme beyond September.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the government was “open-minded” about the possibility of this and that the furlough scheme had been a huge success.

Separate HMRC figures show 25,300 self-employed workers in Buckinghamshire have received government cash since the self-employment income support scheme started. The total value of the claims made across the area stood at £240.3 million by May 9.