Third of sector on furlough at end of spring

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Furloughed staff: £398m was claimed by the food and accommodation sector for May (image: Getty/Kosamtu)
Furloughed staff: £398m was claimed by the food and accommodation sector for May (image: Getty/Kosamtu)

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One third of the hospitality sector (33%) was on furlough at the end of May 2021 – the month lockdown restrictions on indoor hospitality were eased.

Fresh figures from HMRC show that the accommodation and food services sector saw the largest reduction in jobs on furlough in May.

There were 398,300 fewer jobs on furlough by the end of the month, which saw indoor hospitality finally permitted to reopen on Monday 17 May after five months of enforced closure. 

The industry peaked at 1.65m employments on furlough on 10 April 2020 during the first national lockdown.

There were 997,800 employments on furlough at 30 April 2021 which decreased to a provisional estimate of 589,5000 at 31 May 2021.

Some £398m was claimed by the food and accommodation sector for periods from 1 May 2021 to 31 May 2021.

For every region in England, the industry had the highest number of employments on furlough at 31 May 2021.

More than a quarter (28%) of furloughed employments in London were in the sector on 30 April with provisional estimates showing this dropped to 26% the next month.

Employer contributions

For the devolved nations, there were 141,600 employments on furlough in the hospitality trade at the end of April. 

Provisional data for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland showed that this had dropped to 85,700 at the end of May.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme saw the Government cover 80% of wages for workers who could not work their full hours because of the pandemic.

Employers must contribute 10% of the cost to cover wages from this month (July) with this increased to 20% in August and September.

Hospitality and late-night sector trade bodies have called for adjustments to be made to the scheme for businesses unable to reopen or make a profit because of continued restrictions. 

Many of the venues able to reopen have been hit by a hospitality staff shortage as workers have returned to their home countries or chosen to leave the sector.

Pubs have had to increase the number of staff on shift to comply with Covid restrictions such as storing customer contact-details and table service.

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