Latest HMRC data shows size industry’s furloughed workforce shrank by 15% in March

The number of furloughed construction workers fell by 15% in March - 3% more than the national average.

The latest HMRC data shows that there were around 196,000 workers in construction furloughed at the end of March, compared to over 230,000 at the end of February.

There were still 4.2 million furloughed workers across the wider economy at the end of March, down from 4.7 million at the end of February.

The number of furloughed construction workers fell more than 3% faster than the wider economy in March

But the decrease for the wider economy, which comes in the wake of the successful vaccine rollout, was smaller than for the construction sector at around 11.6%.

The figures for construction represent the second consecutive monthly fall after hitting 245,000 in January.

The take-up rate also dipped from 18% of workers in February to 15% in March, although this was still slightly above the average rate across all sectors of 14%.

Construction has the fifth-highest take-up rate out of all sectors after accommodation and food services, arts, other service activities and wholesale and retail.

The number of employers furloughing staff also fell faster than the average across all sectors in March, at around 10%, with 83,000 employers using the scheme at the end of March compared to 91,600 at the end of February. The fall for the wider economy was just under 6%.

The total value of claims made by construction firms between the start of November last year and the end of March was just over £1bn out of an economy-wide total of nearly £18bn.

The number of construction workers on the scheme reached an all-time high of nearly 725,000 in April last year at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, before falling steadily over the summer.

But the number started to increase again in November last year as the industry felt the impact of the second and third national lockdowns.


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