It has been hailed by millions as the biggest pandemic success story – but now, after 18 months, furlough has finally drawn to an end.

Furlough – or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as it is formally known – was introduced by the government back in March 2020 and has helped over 11 million workers survive the biggest public health emergency in a generation.

The scheme – which pays 80 per cent of employees’ wages – was expected to expire last spring. But Chancellor Rishi Sunak, under pressure from business leaders and opposition MPs, extended furlough after the country plunged into a second lockdown.