TfL takes £15.8m a month of state funding to furlough 7,000 staff

Starting on Monday, Transport for London will furlough 7,000 staff whose work has been reduced or paused as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


This will allow TfL to access funding from the government’s job retention scheme, saving the organisation an estimated £15.8milllion every four weeks. This will partly reduce the huge financial impact of coronavirus while constructive discussions continue with government on the wider revenue support that TfL says it will need to continue the effective operation of London’s transport network.


Since London entered lockdown on 23 March, TfL has – as part of the national strategy to beat the virus – been urging Londoners to only make essential journeys. The vast majority of Londoners have listened to TfL and the mayor of London’s advice to stay at home, to not travel and so save lives. The success of this vital advice has seen Tube journeys fall by 95% and journeys on buses fall by 85%. However, this has meant that TfL’s main source of income has almost disappeared. It has  ceased collecting fares on buses following the universal introduction of centre door boarding.


The job retention scheme means TfL can access funding for 80% of the salary of furloughed staff up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. TfL says it has carefully assessed which roles within the organisation are suitable for the scheme, ensuring that all staff required for recovery planning and delivery are retained. It will place 7,000 staff on furlough for an initial period of three weeks. This represents around 25% of the workforce employed. TfL will pay the remainder of salaries of all furloughed employees and continue to pay pension contributions, to ensure that people are supported.


London’s transport commissioner, Mike Brown, says: “The transport network is crucial in the fight to tackle coronavirus and it will play a similarly vital role in supporting the country’s economy as it recovers from the pandemic. We have significantly cut our costs over recent years but nevertheless the success of encouraging the vast majority of people to stay at home has seen our main revenue, fares, reduce by 90%. We are now taking steps to use the government’s job retention scheme to further reduce our costs where work has been paused because of the virus, while at the same time supporting our staff financially.


“Our work with the government about the support that we need is ongoing and are constructive. We hope for an urgent agreement so that we can continue to provide the city with the vital transport it needs now and in future.”

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