Thousands fewer workers in South Oxfordshire were on furlough in May, but as the scheme starts to be wound down, the Government has been accused of acting too fast.

As of July 1, employers must pay 10 per cent of the salary for furloughed staff, rising to 20 per cent 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 latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs show that 4,400 jobs held by workers living in South Oxfordshire were furloughed in May.

That was 2,000 fewer than the 6,400 furloughed at the end of April.

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

The figures show that in May in South Oxfordshire furloughed jobs in the retail sector dropped by 430, to 550.

In the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, 190 fewer jobs were supported by the scheme, with 310 still furloughed.

The number of hospitality jobs furloughed fell by 620, to 910.

Separate HMRC figures show 6,400 self-employed workers in South Oxfordshire have received Government cash since the self-employment income support scheme started. The total value of the claims made across the area stood at £63.5 million by June 6.

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