Furlough rates drop but arts and travel sectors lag behind

Many staff who have been furloughed in recent months have been getting back to work but travel agents and those employed in the arts are still lagging behind, new figures show.

The number of people furloughed fell by 900,000 during April to 3.4 million at the end of the month, the Government statistics show.

The back-to-work drive was led by Britain’s pubs, which were allowed to reopen for outside service on April 12.

Indoor service did not resume until May, so its impact will not be seen in these figures.

Businesses which the statistics count as in the “beverage serving activities” group reduced the number of people on furlough by 72,500 in April.

Yet on April 30 it was still the sector with the highest take-up rate for furlough, with 70% of eligible staff still not working.

This compares with just 12% across all sectors, according to the Government’s estimates.

Others that remain hard-hit include hotels, airlines and photographers, all of which have more than 50% of employments still furloughed.

Some, including travel agencies and tour operators and the arts and entertainment sector, are seeing slower decreases in furlough rates than elsewhere in the economy.

“The continued fall in furlough rates during April as the economy began to reopen is an encouraging indicator that the labour market – as well as the wider economy – is recovering quickly,” said Dan Tomlinson, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation.

“But with around one in six young workers still on furlough at the end of April, today’s figures are a stark reminder of the risk of rising unemployment when the furlough scheme ends. The Government must do all it can to ensure those workers find work as quickly as possible.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We’ll continue to support those who need it through to September but I am hopeful that we’ll see more people moving back into work as we continue on the road to recovery.”