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 15 March 2021, 11.4 million jobs had been furloughed through the Government’s job retention scheme, at a cost of £57.7 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.

Sectors

Some sectors have been much more affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and this is reflected in furlough levels. At 28 February 2020, 56% (1.15 million) of eligible jobs in the Accommodation and food services were still on furlough, making it the sector with the highest furlough rate. 55% (313,400) of jobs in the Arts, entertainment and recreation sector, and 41% (224,800) of eligible jobs in the Other service activities sector were also furloughed as at 31 January.

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 the summer, 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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