This paper provides statistics and analysis of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applied from 1 March 2020 and is currently due to end at the end of September 2021. The scheme provides grants to employers so they can retain and continue to pay staff during coronavirus related lockdowns, by furloughing employees at 80% of their wages.

By midnight on 14 May 2021, 11.5 million employee jobs had been furloughed through the Government’s job retention scheme, at a cost of £64.0 billion.

Furlough levels largely rise and falls with changes in lockdown restrictions and changes to the CJRS scheme.  The number of jobs furloughed peaked in June, fell throughout the summer and then increased in November and again in January after national lockdowns were introduced, and started to fall in March-April 2021.

 

Sectors

Some sectors have been much more affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and this is reflected in furlough levels. As at 30 April 2021, the three sectors with the highest furlough rates were the Accommodation and food services sector, with 48% (932,000) of eligible jobs on furlough, the Arts, entertainment and recreation sector at 42% (230,200) of jobs on furlough, and the Other service activities, with 29% (157,500) of eligible jobs on furlough.

These three sectors had by far the highest furlough rates at the end of April: all other sectors had rates of 14% or less, and over half of these had rates of less than 10%.

Age and gender

Those aged 24 and under had the highest proportion of furloughed jobs, and women in these age groups were more likely to be furloughed than men.

Full and partial furlough

From 1 July, the furlough scheme was made more flexible so that furloughed employees could be brought back part-time. Over summer 2020, the number of jobs partially furloughed rose as jobs fully furloughed fell, as lockdown restrictions eased, and employees were more able to go to work some of the time. The announcement of the November lockdown caused a much sharper increase in full furlough, and this happened again when January lockdown began. 

Impact on the labour market

It is clear that the CJRS has been instrumental to avoiding a large rise in unemployment. In April 2020, the OBR published a reference scenario where unemployment would peak at 10.0% in Q2 2020. In reality, the highest rate of unemployment in 2020 was 5.1% in Q4.

The CJRS was extended in Budget 2021. How many redundancies the CJRS will avoid in the longer term will depend on how the scheme is wound down. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects most of the 4.7 million jobs on furlough at the end of January to be back in their jobs by June, and forecasts that the number of people on furlough will fall to 2.0 million by September.


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