Fewer Falkirk and West Lothian workers on furlough in March

Over 1,000 fewer workers in both the West Lothian and Falkirk council areas 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 10,700 jobs held by workers living in West Lothian were furloughed then.

That was 1,500 fewer than the 12,200 furloughed at the end of February, and lower than 12,400 in January.

Women in West Lothian were slightly more likely to be furloughed than men, with a take-up rate of 13 per cent, compared to 12 per cent. By the end of March, roughly 31,700 jobs there had been supported by the scheme at any point since its inception, the figures show.

Around 8,700 jobs held by workers living in Falkirk were furloughed then, down 1,300 from the end of February. Women and men in Falkirk were just as likely to be furloughed, with take-up rates of 12 per cent for both.

By the end of March, roughly 27,000 jobs had been supported by the scheme there since furlough began.

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.

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

Around 1,830 hospitality jobs held by workers in West Lothian were furloughed as of March 31 – 17 per cent of all jobs. That was the second-largest proportion of all sectors, behind wholesale and retail and motor vehicle repair services (27 per cent).

There were 1,720 hospitality jobs furloughed in Falkirk as of March 31 – 20 per cent of all jobs. That was the second-largest proportion of all sectors, behind wholesale and retail and motor vehicle repair services (21 per cent).

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 pay a higher contribution from July.

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."

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