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590,000 come off furlough as employers prepare to shoulder burden for scheme

Another 590,000 people were removed from the Government’s furlough programme in June, as the scheme will taper off further this weekend.

Official data shows that 1.9 million people were still furloughed by the end of June, a reduction from 2.4 million a month earlier.

June’s numbers are the last before the scheme started to shift more of the burden from the Treasury to companies.

In July, employers had to pick up 10% of their employees’ salaries, while Government support dropped from 80% to 70%.

Starting on Sunday, this will be reduced further to 60%, with employers picking up 20% of the furlough pay in August and September. After that, the scheme will end.

Going into July, more than one in four employers still had some of their staff on furlough. Unless these staff are made redundant, or brought back to work, keeping them on furlough through the month will cost businesses millions of pounds.

The number of people on furlough has been dropping since January when 5.1 million workers were stuck at home.

They were guaranteed 80% of their salaries – to a limit – from the Government scheme.

But things improved with the lifting of lockdown restrictions, which had prevented businesses from trading normally, or even opening at all.

Some businesses are still heavily affected by the pandemic. Data released on Thursday shows that 58% of jobs at UK airlines are still furloughed.

Travel agencies and tour operators, photographers and the arts also still have many people on furlough.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “It’s fantastic to see businesses across the UK open, employees returning to work and the numbers of furloughed jobs falling to their lowest levels since the scheme began.

“I’m proud our plan for jobs is working and our support will continue in the months ahead.”

Young people have been the most likely to be on furlough throughout much of the pandemic, but this changed in June when they moved off the scheme twice as fast as all other age brackets.

In total, 600,000 under-25s were either brought back to work or made redundant.

Now, staff over 65 have the highest furlough levels of any age group.