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Furlough figures fall to their lowest levels this year

The Treasury has said that its plan to protect jobs during the pandemic "is working" as furlough numbers have fallen to their lowest levels this year according to official figures.

Around 1.3 million fewer people accessed the scheme in March and April, bringing the total number of furloughed employees to 3.4m.

Since the start of the pandemic, 11.5m employees and 1.3m employers have benefitted from the furlough scheme.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that "these figures show the scheme is naturally winding down as people get back to work and take advantage of the opportunities out there in the jobs market".

Senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, Dan Tomlinson, described the figures as an "encouraging indicator" that the labour market and wider economy is starting to recover.

He added, however, that "with around one-in-six young workers still on furlough at the end of April, today's figures are a stark reminder of the risk of rising unemployment when the furlough scheme ends.

"The Government must do all it can to ensure those workers find work as quickly as possible."

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