LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Around 5 million British jobs
remained fully or partly on furlough at the end of July, down
from a peak of just under 9 million but still leaving millions
of workers facing uncertainty with the scheme due to be wound up
at the end of next month.
Provisional tax data released on Friday showed employers had
registered 4.8 million jobs as furloughed as of July 31, down
from a peak of 8.9 million in early May.
The government said final data could show an upward revision
of around 10%, making it likely that 5.3 million jobs were still
furloughed at the end of July.
Since July employers have been able to bring furloughed
staff back part-time, but still claim furlough payments for the
hours when staff are not working.
The 4.8 million jobs registered as furloughed included
950,000 where staff are now back working part-time but less than
their usual hours, the finance ministry said.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak has resisted calls to extend
the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme beyond the end of October
but has said he will be "creative" in finding ways to minimise
any future rise in unemployment.
"These figures show the success of our furlough scheme --
making sure people's jobs are there for them to return to," he
said on Friday.
Budget forecasters expect the programme to cost around 54
billion pounds ($70 billion) over its eight-month lifespan.
Use of the scheme has varied widely across sectors, with
more than 40% of staff in the hospitality sector still
furloughed, but only a small fraction of those in sectors such
as finance or IT where it is easier to work from home.
Britain's official jobless rate rose slightly to 4.1% in the
three months to the end of July, and the Bank of England has
forecast it will hit 7.5% by the end of this year.
Less comprehensive but more timely survey data from the
Office for National Statistics suggests the number of furloughed
workers continued to fall through August but remained high.
The Resolution Foundation think-tank estimated, based on the
ONS data, that around 3 million people were furloughed at the
end of August.
($1 = 0.7707 pounds)
(Reporting by David Milliken, Editing by Andy Bruce and