LATEST figure show that 3,200 jobs held by workers living in Wyre Forest were furloughed in May.

That was 1,700 fewer than the 4,900 furloughed at the end of April.

The data from HM Revenue and Customs also show that furloughed jobs in the retail sector dropped by 480, to 500, and in the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, 210 fewer jobs were supported by the scheme, with 240 still furloughed.

The reduction coincided with an easing of restrictions which led to the reopening of indoor entertainment and hospitality, along with holiday accommodation.

As of July 1, employers must pay 10% of the salary for furloughed staff, rising to 20% in August and September, when the support scheme ends.

But there are fears many businesses will not be able to afford the cost with parts of the economy still restricted by Covid measures.

The furlough scheme, formally called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, started with the Government paying 80% of a worker’s wages, up to £2,500 per month, if they were not able to work due to the impact of the pandemic.

Employers could choose whether to make up the rest of staff salaries.

The Government has spent £66 billion on the furlough scheme since it started in March last year.

A spokesperson said: "We deliberately went long with our support to provide certainty to people and businesses over the summer, and that support, which is a substantial amount of funding, is continuing."

They added additional support was being given to businesses through grants, business rates relief and a cut in VAT.

Separate HMRC figures show 4,300 self-employed workers in Wyre Forest have received Government cash since the self-employment income support scheme started.

The total value of the claims made across the area stood at £35.7 million by June 6.