Furlough scheme should be extended to save jobs, says arts body

The Government is being urged to extend the furlough scheme for struggling sectors of the economy such as the arts and entertainment to prevent “significant” job losses.

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) said workers have returned relatively quickly in areas such as hospitality, including accommodation and food services.

Construction and retail have also seen large numbers of workers return from furlough in recent months with 70% estimated to be back at work, said the report.

But arts, entertainment and recreation are continuing to struggle, with only 29% of workers having returned from furlough, according to the study.

Theatre sign
Theatre sign

This includes venues such as theatres, cinemas and nightclubs, as well as gyms and leisure centres, many of which are yet to reopen, let alone benefit from support equivalent to the Chancellor’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme, said the RSA.

Fabian Wallace-Stephens, senior researcher at the RSA, said: “The return to work is encouraging news for the millions of workers in sectors like hospitality and construction.

“However, for some sectors such as the arts and entertainment, the numbers are worryingly low and may prove to be the warning signs of significant redundancies.

“The Government needs to give continued, focused support for these sectors of the economy, linked to a clear recovery strategy.”

The furlough scheme, which has sustained the jobs of millions of workers, is ending in October.