More than half of pub and bar workers were still furloughed in May

09 June 2021 by
More than half of pub and bar workers were still furloughed in May

Over half of pub and bar staff were still being supported by the furlough scheme at the start of May, new figures show.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 55% of employees in the industry remained on furlough last month.

This compares to an overall 8-15% of staff that were still on furlough in all other industries, showing the heavier reliance of hospitality on the scheme.

At its peak during the November 2020 lockdown, 91% of pub and bar staff were on furlough.

The ONS said that although there had been a reduction in hospitality employers using the scheme since restrictions on outdoor service were lifted in April, the percentage still remained high.

"This suggests that were pubs and bars have been open, they have been operating with minimal staff," the report said.

Hospitality businesses nationwide have been struggling to recruit for reopening, with several suggesting other employers keeping staff on furlough meant there were fewer candidates searching for new roles.

One in four restaurants, pubs, bars and other licensed premises across Britain remain closed despite the return of indoor service, according to research from CGA and AlixPartners.

The ONS found confidence among some pub and bar owners had risen in recent months, with 24% stating they had ‘high confidence' their business would survive longer than three months in May. This is up from just 1% in February.

However, trading continued to be subdued with a third of pubs reporting profits 50% lower than their normal expectations since restrictions eased in April.

The number of landlords who had "low confidence" in the ability of their pub or bar to survive beyond three months rose from 3% in April to 19% in May.

The hospitality industry faces uncertainty over whether the government will lift all social distancing requirements on 21 June, with a decision due to be announced on 14 June.

Image: Anton Bannov / Shutterstock

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