Pubs in England were closed apart for takeaway services under the country’s third national lockdown.
Accommodation and food services peaked at 1.65m employments – referring to an individual and their ‘employment’ – on furlough on 10 April, just before beer gardens reopened.
Government statistics reveal there were 1.19m employments on furlough at 28 February, decreasing through March to a provisional estimate of 1.06m at 31 March 2021.
The sector, which includes hospitality businesses, had the highest take-up rate at 28 February with 70% of eligible employers putting staff on furlough.
This decreased to 67% of employers at 31 March 2021, according to provisional estimates, reflecting the nation’s gradual reopening of society. This means the accommodation and food services sector had the largest decrease of furloughed employments, at 129,800.
HMRC also published data on the number of furloughed individuals by area by sector, highlighting the impact of the shutdown of hospitality on communities across the UK.
Across all countries and regions apart from Northern Ireland and the West Midlands, the accommodation and food services sector had the highest number of employments furloughed, as of 28 February.
This was followed by the wholesale and retail sector.
Provisional date showed that it was the same picture as of 31 March except for in the West Midlands, where the accommodation and food services sector now had the most employments on furlough.
In London, a quarter (25%) of furloughed employments were in the hospitality sector on 28 February, rising to a provisional estimate of 26% at 31 March 2021.
The furlough scheme is set to end at the end of September 2021, it was announced in Chancellor Rishi Sunak's 3 March Budget.
Pub operators have reported difficulties with staffing including staff resigning in want of a change of lifestyle and difficulties recruiting post-Brexit.
Chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, Emma McClarkin, said: "Even since before the crisis, pubs in some areas were struggling to find the staff with the skills they need, particularly chefs and kitchen staff. As they reopen and begin their recovery, some have found staff have either moved away or abroad.
“The EU Settled Status deadline of 30 June could also add pressure on pubs struggling to find staff.
"As pubs reopen, this has meant in some instances they have had to hire again.
"It remains the case that pubs and hospitality are a great career and you can go from bar staff to managing a pub very quickly. I encourage anyone interested in a career in hospitality to apply to one of their locals."