Coronavirus: More than £17bn of claims made through furlough scheme

11 June 2020, 11:18

Nearly nine million people have been supported by the scheme
Nearly nine million people have been supported by the scheme. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

More than £17bn worth of claims have been made through the government's furlough scheme amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to detailed statistics from HMRC.

The data, which was compiled up to 31 May, shows a total of 8.7 million people have been supported by the Job Retention Scheme, which totals the claims at £17.5bn.

These came from just over a million employers in the UK - with the largest sector to be furloughed being in wholesale and retail.

More than 1.6 million people have been furloughed in this industry with claims reaching £3.3bn.

This was followed by 1.4 million people working in the accommodation and food services sector with claims of £2.6bn, and around 830,000 people in manufacturing.

There are around 1.1 million people being supported by the scheme categorised in the "unknown and other" bracket.

Rishi Sunak launched the scheme as COVID-19 disrupted business and travel
Rishi Sunak launched the scheme as COVID-19 disrupted business and travel. Picture: PA

Under the Job Retention Scheme, 80 per cent of an employee's wages are paid by the state - up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

It was an initiative announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier in the year as COVID-19 spread rapidly across the globe, forcing shutdowns to business and travel - and making layoffs look likely.

But as the UK begins to move away from its months-long lockdown, Mr Sunak has announced the scene will gradually taper off in the coming months with people returning to work.

He said at the time: "We stood behind Britain’s businesses and workers as we came into this crisis and we stand behind them as we come through the other side.

"Now, as we begin to reopen our country and kickstart our economy, these schemes will adjust to ensure those who are able to work can do so, while remaining among the most generous in the world."

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According to geographical statistics, London makes up the highest area of furloughed employments, with nearly 1.5 million people being supported.

More than 2 million people are part of the scheme when London and the South East figures are combined.

This is compared to the 628,000 people furloughed in the whole of Scotland, while less than 320,000 employments that are part of the scheme in Wales and Northern Ireland.