The government’s latest figures for Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme reveal the huge cost of furloughing the property industry.
Data from HMRC show that £300 million has been spent since the beginning of the furlough scheme in March supporting 25,200 estate agencies, property management firms and other housing sector related companies.
Between them they have added 128,500 staff to the scheme.
This does not include the construction sector, which has seen 679,600 employees furloughed many of which include house builders.
These figures were included at the bottom of an announcement which reveal that in total so far 1.07 million firms and 8.7 million jobs have been supported through the furlough scheme under claims made until 31 May, costing the government £17.5 billion.
Furloughing has also followed a varied regional pattern with London and the South East seeing the most people put into the scheme – both over a million each – with the North West, at 810,000, in third place.
Last month Sunak announced that his furlough scheme, which pays 80 per cent of the wages of workers for companies affected by the pandemic, was to be extended by four months until the end of October.
But until then it is being slowly wound down and for example last week was the last chance agencies had to add their staff to the scheme.
Thousands of agency staff remain furloughed. Only ten days ago LSL revealed that only 43% or approximately 1,300 of its furloughed employees had staff had returned to work so far.
“I’d say June and July are looking palatable for agents as they keep many of their staff on furlough, consume their government support funding and bank their completion cheques from their pre-COVID sales pipeline’ says Rayner Personnel CEO Josh Rayner.
“But..our research highlights a problem coming down the tracks as the government support starts to dilute.”