Rishi Sunak says the furlough scheme has been a success after doing what it has been designed to do.
More than half of those furloughed since May returned to work by mid-August according to data published by the Office for National Statistics.
At the schemes peak in May, 30% of the workforce across the UK was furloughed. The share of the workforce furloughed fell by more than half to 11% by mid-August – and will likely have fallen further since.
The data comes as the Chancellor visited pottery firm Emma Bridgewater, who have recently returned nearly all of their furloughed staff to work.
During the visit, he raised awareness of the Job Retention Bonus that will support companies returning staff to work and reward them for keeping them in their jobs.
Sunak said: “As today’s official employment figures today show, the furlough scheme has done what it was designed to do – save jobs and help people back to work, where they want to be.
“We were clear at the start of the pandemic that we couldn’t save every job, but the furlough scheme has supported millions of workers and we want to help employers keep people on. Our Job Retention Bonus will do exactly that, supporting businesses to do the right thing.”
Over the summer, ONS data shows that less than 1% of the workforce was made redundant in every 2 week survey period, showing that the scheme is delivering on its aim of saving jobs and retaining the connection between employees and their workplace.
The ONS Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey also shows that the flow of employees off furlough has been steady, falling by 6% in late July and a further 6% in early August.
By the time the scheme closes, it will have been open for eight months, with support continuing in the form of the Job Retention Bonus which kicks in from November and supports the wages of staff brought back to work.
The £1,000 Job Retention Bonus is equal to a 20% wage subsidy for the employment costs of the average person previously furloughed, but for those on lower incomes, it’s 40% of wage costs over the 3-month period to the end of January 2021.