THERE were 1,000 fewer workers in Reading were on furlough in March, as the UK started to recover from the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest statistics – which reveal the situation before pubs and non-essential shops opened for the first time in months – show that thousands of people locally were still on the income support scheme as of March 31.

HM Revenue and Customs data shows around 11,300 jobs held by workers living in Reading were furloughed then.

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That was 1,800 fewer than the 13,100 furloughed at the end of February, and lower than 13,400 in January.

Women in Reading were more likely to be furloughed than men, with a take-up rate of 14%, compared to 12%.

By the end of March, roughly 31,100 jobs had been supported by the scheme at any point since its inception, the figures show.

Stock closure image.

Stock closure image.

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% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month.

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 have to pay a higher contribution from July.

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

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.

Around 2,900 hospitality jobs held by workers in Reading were furloughed as of March 31 – 26% of all jobs.

That was the largest proportion of all sectors, followed by wholesale and retail, and motor vehicle repair services (19%).

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