At the end of July, 1.6 million people were still on furlough. This is the lowest level since the start of the pandemic and down by 340,000 compared to the month prior.

But older people and the travel sector did less well, with 50% of eligible travel workers still on the scheme.

11.6 million workers have benefited from the government programme since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Furlough is due to end 30 September 2021.

Close to nine million people were on furlough at the peak of the pandemic in May 2020.

However, Charlie McCurdy, Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said the number of people coming off furlough over the summer had ‘slowed to a trickle’.

McCurdy added: ‘As a result, up to a million employees could still be on furlough when the scheme closes at the end of this month. While we expect most of these staff to return to their previous roles, a significant number will not, and we could see a fresh rise in unemployment this autumn.

‘Given these circumstances, now is not the right time to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week. The government must change course.’

“With over a million people still claiming furlough, it should not come as a surprise that when the scheme ends many people could suffer. There is potential for hundreds of thousands of people to lose their jobs.”

Nigel Holland