Press Release

Our response as the furlough scheme starts to wind down

As the government begins to wind down the furlough scheme today, Nick Bowes, Chief Executive of Centre for London said:

“The facts that no one seems to want to talk about are just how hard the pandemic has hit London’s economy. The city has consistently had the highest number of staff on furlough out of any English region since July 2020. And although unemployment is down, London still has the highest unemployment rate of any region, nearly 40 per cent higher than the national average, alongside the highest increase in universal credit claims.

“This feeds into a dangerous assumption that somehow all is fine in London, and that the capital will just bounce back under its own steam. This risks the city’s recovery, and given how important London is to the UK, the whole country’s recovery too.”

“If the government is serious about levelling up, then it must look to protect jobs in London and support Londoners back into employment by investing in green jobs, enhancing further education, and supporting self-employed workers. It also has to recognise that a one size fits all approach doesn’t work for everywhere and the unique nature of London will need special tailored support to kickstart its economy.

“A furlough cliff-edge could damage London’s recovery and result in real hardship for working Londoners. And a slower recovery for London will mean less money in the Treasury to spend outside the capital on levelling up.”


Data as of 1 July 2021

Furlough rates in London vs England as a whole:

  • The proportion of eligible ‘employments’ (read: jobs) furloughed in London as of May 31 was 11%. This compares to 8% in England.

Furlough rates by sector:

  • The sectors with the highest proportion of jobs furloughed in London in May were accommodation and food services (39%), arts, entertainment and creation (30%), and construction (19%).* The furlough rates in these sectors are pretty similar in London to England as a whole, except for construction, where just 11% of jobs were furloughed in England.
  • Some sectors saw a greater furlough rate in London than in England as a whole. The sectors with the biggest percentage point difference in the proportion of workers furloughed in London vs England as a whole are: (1) construction (19% in London v 11% in England as a whole), (2) manufacturing (14% in London v 9% in England), (3) accommodation and food services (39% vs 34%).
  • The sectors with the highest number of individuals furloughed were the same in London and England as a whole: (1) Accommodation and food services, (2) Wholesale and retail; repair of motor vehicles, and (3) Administrative and support services.
  • ‘Other service activities’, a loose category which comprises membership organisations, repair of household goods, and personal services such as hairdressing, had a furlough rate of 22% in London in May.