The Chancellor visits Openreach training centre

FURLOUGH numbers have fallen to their lowest level this year, according to official statistics published today (3 Jun), as the number of people relying on the scheme fell to 3.4 million. 

  • 1.3 million fewer employees accessed the furlough scheme in March and April according to new data showing our focus on jobs continues to pay off
  • The furlough scheme will remain in place until the end of September to ensure jobs are protected as businesses get back on their feet
  • New figures also show that a total of 2.8 million people have benefitted from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

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 18-24 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 out today 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. Together, this makes it clear that our Plan for Jobs is working to protect and create jobs across the country.

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. 

Rishi Sunak 100x100Chancellor 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.

This provides the right balance - supporting thousands of firms and millions of employees as they get back in business.


Plan for Jobs: Almost 2 million fewer people are expected to be out of work than initially forecast 

Rishi Sunak sees Plan For Jobs in action at Pillars Brewery 

12 May 2021: As new figures show the economy grew by 2.1% in March and performed better than previous forecasts for the first three months of the year as a whole, Rishi Sunak visited Pillars Brewery in Walthamstow to see how they are preparing for the reopening of indoor hospitality next week and responding to an increase in demand for their products as the economy recovers.

Like many other businesses in the food and drink industry, Pillars have taken advantage of several aspects of the support available under the Government’s Plan for Jobs including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and local business grants. Pillars are also recruiting a Kickstarter under the Government-backed scheme to help young people find new jobs.

On the visit, the Chancellor was welcomed by co-founders of Pillars Brewery Gavin Litton and Omar Razaq, who spoke to the Chancellor about their business and showed him how the brewing process works.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

 “It’s great to see businesses like Pillars who have been supported by the government through the pandemic get back on their feet as the economy begins to recover. 

“Despite a difficult start to the year, the figures released this morning showing economic growth in March are a promising sign of things to come.

“Our Plan for Jobs is working – following the comprehensive package we put in place, almost 2 million fewer people are expected to be out of work than initially forecast, and the UK economy is in a strong position to grow quickly as we emerge from the pandemic.

 “Even with this positive news, we know that many businesses and people still need our help, and that’s why I want to reassure everyone today that our Plan for Jobs will continue to create, support and protect jobs in the coming months. We have extended the self-employed and furlough schemes until September whilst schemes like Kickstart are already helping to create thousands of new jobs for young people – it’s great to see companies like Pillars creating jobs under this scheme.    

 “As we cautiously reopen the economy, I will continue to take all the steps necessary to support our recovery”

Pillars Brewery said:

“It was great to welcome the Chancellor to Pillars Brewery today and talk to him about the challenges our business has faced, and how we’ve found reopening so far. It’s been a relief to welcome our staff back from furlough and we are also recruiting new team members through the government’s Kickstart scheme”

Today’s visit comes as ONS GDP figures, released this morning, show that GDP grew by 2.1% in March. This morning’s release also showed that GDP fell by 1.5% in Q1 2021 – significantly better than the 3.8% fall the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast in March.

Last week, the Bank of England upgraded their forecast for the UK economy and are now expecting that the economy will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.

Established in 2016, Pillars was the first craft lager brewery in London. Pillars recently scored a Gold Medal Award for their Icebock in the 2021 London Beer Competition, and their three core lagers (Hop Lager, Helles and Pilsner) were awarded silver.

UK GDP estimated to have decreased by 1.5% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2021 

The Office for National Statistics released their GDP first quarterly estimate data, which highlights that the economy is now 8.7% smaller than before the start of the Covid pandemic.

However, there was a strong recovery in March with the economy growing 2.1% boosted by retail spending and the return of schools.

The ONS highlighted some main points:

  • UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have decreased by 1.5% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2021.
  • There have been contractions in services and production output, however, construction output grew over the quarter.
  • In output terms, school closures and a large fall in retail sales earlier in the quarter dragged down GDP growth.
  • The level of GDP is now 8.7% below where it was before the pandemic at Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019.
  • Government consumption increased and the trade balance improved in Quarter 1 2021 (although this was because of imports falling more sharply than exports), however household final consumption expenditure and business investment declined as a result of the reintroduction of coronavirus restrictions.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said:

 “Despite a difficult start to this year, economic growth in March is a promising sign of things to come.

 “Our Plan for Jobs is working – following the comprehensive package we put in place, almost 2 million fewer people are expected to be out of work than initially forecast, and the UK economy is in a strong position to grow quickly as we emerge from the pandemic.

 “Even with this positive news, we know that many businesses and people still need our help, and that’s why I want to reassure everyone today that our Plan for Jobs will continue to create, support and protect jobs in the coming months. We have extended the self-employed and furlough schemes until September whilst schemes like Kickstart are already helping to create thousands of new jobs for young people.   

 “As we cautiously reopen the economy, I will continue to take all the steps necessary to support our recovery.”

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