Thousands of Fife workers come off furlough as business re--opens after lockdown
The number of workers in Fife on furlough showed a huge drop in April, according to new figures.
Many pub, restaurant and shop workers returned to their roles as outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail opened for the first time since December.
But, businesses in other sectors continue to be hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
HM Revenue and Customs figures show that 16,000 jobs held by workers living in Fife were furloughed in April.
That was 4000 fewer than the 20,000 furloughed at the end of March.
In April in Fife, furloughed jobs in the retail sector dropped by 930, to 3,040.
In the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, 600 fewer jobs were supported by the scheme, but1070 were still furloughed in April
The number of hospitality jobs furloughed fell by 740, to 4070
Through the scheme, the Government pays 80% of a worker’s wages, up to £2,500 per month, if they haven’t been able to work due to the impact of the pandemic.
However, employers will pay a larger contribution from July.
Across the UK, the total number of jobs furloughed fell by 900,000 during April to 3.4 million at the end of the month, the figures show.
Dan Tomlinson, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, which focuses on living standards, said the drop in the number of people on furlough was "encouraging".
He added that it is an indicator that the labour market – as well as the wider economy – is recovering quickly.
“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," he said.
"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.”
At a recent four-nation coronavirus recovery summit, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for the UK Government to extend the furlough scheme beyond September.