Fewer Midlothian workers on furlough in March

Roughly 1,000 fewer workers in Midlothian were on furlough in March, as the UK started to recover from the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 6:00 am
A restaurant boarded up due to coronavirus restrictions. Picture : John Devlin.

The latest statistics – which reveal the situation before pubs and non-essential shops opened for the first time in months – show that millions of people nationally were still on the income support scheme as of March 31.

HM Revenue and Customs data shows around 5,800 jobs held by workers living in Midlothian were furloughed then, 1,000 fewer than the 6,800 furloughed at the end of February. Women and men in Midlothian were just as likely to be furloughed, with take-up rates of 13 per cent for both. By the end of March, roughly 16,100 jobs had been supported here by the scheme at any point since its inception.

Jobs at firms which are unable to operate or have no work for their employees during the pandemic are eligible for furlough pay from the Government – with workers currently getting 80 per cent of their wages, up to £2,500 per month.

The scheme has been extended until the end of September – beyond the planned reopening of all areas of the economy on June 21 – and employers will have to pay a higher contribution from July.

Across the UK, 4.2 million jobs were furloughed as of March 31, down from 4.7 million a month before.

The latest figures do not cover the further easing of lockdown in April, which saw customers flood back to salons, gyms, pub gardens and non-essential shops across the UK.

But the Resolution Foundation, which focuses on living standards, said they indicate that the lifting of restrictions has "taken some of the heat off furlough".

"At the end of March, 4.2 million employees were furloughed. Initial estimates from Office for National Statistics business survey data suggest that as restrictions were eased, the number furloughed fell to just over three million", the think tank said.

"Still, firms in social consumption sectors like hospitality and leisure had over half of their employees furloughed in March.

"These are some of the lowest paid sectors containing a high share of young workers."

Around 1,260 hospitality jobs held by workers in Midlothian were furloughed as of March 31 – 22 per cent of all jobs.

That was the largest proportion of all sectors, followed by wholesale and retail, and motor vehicle repair services (19 per cent).

Across the UK, 1.1 million jobs in the accommodation and food services sector were furloughed in March.