THOUSANDS fewer workers were on Furlough as lockdown restrictions were eased.

Pubs, restaurant and shop workers returned to their roles in April as HM Revenue and Customs figures show that 8,600 jobs held by workers living in Braintree were furloughed that month.

That was 2,00 fewer than the 10,600 furloughed at the end of March.

The biggest drop was in the retail sector as it fell by 670 people, to 1,620.

Unexpectedly the number of hospitality jobs furloughed fell by 290, to 1,510.

Through the scheme, the Government pays 80 per cent of a worker’s wages, up to £2,500 per month, if they haven’t been able to work due to the impact of the pandemic.

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However, from next month employers will have to lay a larger contribution.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We’ll continue to support those who need it through to September but I am hopeful that we’ll see more people moving back into work as we continue on the road to recovery.”

At a recent four-nation coronavirus recovery summit, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for the UK Government to extend the furlough scheme beyond September.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the Government was “open-minded” about the possibility of this and that the furlough scheme had been a huge success.

Separate HMRC figures show 7,500 self-employed workers in Colchester have received Government cash since the self-employment income support scheme started.