The prime minister’s decision to again urge people to work from home has led to a marked drop in commuting, according to the latest official snapshot of the impact of Covid-19.
In the week following Boris Johnson’s U-turn on previous government advice for people in England to return to their normal workplaces, 59% of workers across the UK made the commute compared with 64% the previous week.
Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of people working exclusively from home rose from 21% to 24%. Those neither working from home nor at their workplace, which included those furloughed, remained unchanged at 16%.
The shift in the week following the prime minister’s revised advice brought to an end a steady increase in the numbers returning to their normal place of work from less than 40% in May to 64% in mid-September.
Official figures show exclusive remote working hit a high of 38% in mid-June, though the statistics were only collected from the middle of May so miss out nearly two months of lockdown.
The latest ONS data also revealed that 11% of the UK workforce was on full or partial furlough between 7 September and 20 September, down slightly from 12% in the previous survey. From this month, companies that want to furlough staff must pick up at least 20% of the bill, up from 10% in September. The furlough scheme will end at the end of October and be replaced by the job support scheme, which places more of the burden of topping up wages on employers.
The ONS study suggested that those people coming off furlough in the coming weeks may have a slightly easier time finding a new jobs. Between 18 and 25 September, total online job adverts increased from 55% to 59% of their 2019 average, the highest recorded level since 3 April.