Furlough scheme ends

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end

Related tags Furlough Westminster Nightclub Casual dining Fine dining Pubs

The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - better known as furlough - has come to an end.

The UK-wide scheme was introduced during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to allow businesses to keep their staff on. 

The Government initially paid 80% of wages to employees that were unable to work due to workplaces being closed or operating at a reduced capacity, but this dropped to 70% and the 60%. 

The scheme was extended a number of times and was latterly made more flexible to allow businesses to get staff back in on an ad hoc basis.

Though by no means perfect - furloughed hospitality staff were controversially not entitled to tip payments​ - the furlough scheme played a big role in supporting hospitality staff and businesses during the pandemic. 

It supported nine million workers at its peak and has helped pay the wages of 11.6 million workers overall at the cost of around £70bn. 

The chancellor said he was “immensely proud” of the scheme, but that now was the right time to close it.

Nearly one million workers were expected to be on the scheme at the end of September, according to research by the Resolution Foundation.

According to HMRC, of those on furlough in late July about half were able to work some of the time, the HMRC says.

Forecasters, including the Bank of England, are expecting a small rise in unemployment as it ends.

With the UK hospitality industry now nearly completely reopen, relatively few of its staff were on furlough when the scheme ended yesterday. 

Of those that were, the majority were from the nightclub and late night bar sector, which has found it tougher to reopen due to staffing issues and a lack of demand in some cases.

“Furlough without a doubt has been one of the saving graces of the pandemic, with industry now open and starting to bounce back, and furlough ending, we are still some way off pre-pandemic staffing levels,” says Night Time Industries Association CEO Michael Kill.

“Much of the workforce have taken other roles while claiming furlough and have monopolised on their position, and when asked to return decided to leave the sector, with concerns around sector uncertainty.”

“The implementation of winter operating restrictions are a concern for many businesses, presenting challenges on how to manage resource levels in the future whilst battling workforce confidence.”

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