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Furlough numbers drop to lowest level since start of pandemic


Published: 10 Sep 2021 Update History

Around 340,000 people have moved off furlough across the UK over the course of July, according to HM Treasury, as the UK economy continues to rebound and businesses reopen.

Figures published on 9 September show the number of people on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in July stood at 1.6 million – down 340,000 from almost two million at the end of June and a peak of nearly nine million at the height of the pandemic in May last year.

The numbers also show a striking fall in the number of young people on furlough, showing that the government’s Plan for Jobs is continuing to support young people back into work. A total of 121,600 people between the ages of 18-34 came off the CJRS during the months of June and July.

“It’s fantastic to see furlough levels at their lowest since the start of the pandemic with young people in particular getting back to work and kick starting their careers as the UK gets back to business,” said Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

He continued: “With furlough naturally unwinding and coming to a close at the end of the month we are doubling down on our Plan for Jobs - focusing our support on giving people the skills and opportunities they need to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.”

The furlough scheme has protected nearly 12 million jobs over the last 18 months, with nearly two million fewer people now expected to be out of work than was previously feared. Last summer, the OBR forecast that the unemployment rate would reach nearly 12%, but now predicts it will peak at just over half that number.

How has SEISS performed?

The latest statistics for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) show a consistent fall in demand since the beginning of the scheme. Across all five grants, 9.9 million claims have been made and more than £27bn has been claimed by almost three million people. Around 800,000 people have claimed the latest self-employment scheme grant. Overall, around 5 million individuals reported self-employment income for the tax year 2019 to 2020, and had their data assessed for potential SEISS eligibility.

In another positive sign for the economy and jobs, the latest Insolvency Service figures also show that fewer potential redundancies were notified in August than any other month in 2020-2021.

The CJRS and SEISS schemes are naturally unwinding as the economy rebounds and businesses reopen and will come to a close at the end of this month. The final CJRS grant covers payrolls up to 30 September 2021 - the final date for which employees can be furloughed (the final claim date for this payroll is 14 October 2021). Applications for the fifth SEISS grant must be made on or before 30 September 2021. 

More information:

Webinar: SEISS grants update

In this webinar Caroline Miskin, from ICAEW's Tax Faculty, navigates the significant changes to the fifth SEISS grant and covers related tax return and compliance issues.

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