Notifications of possible redundancies from UK companies doubled in October as 842 more employers notified the government they are planning job cuts in the coming months.
The rise is more than any other month since the pandemic began and almost two and a half times the number notified in October last year.
There was a rapid rise in the number of Covid infections in October with more stringent restrictions added in many parts of the UK, escalating to an England-wide lockdown at the end of the month.
The announcement has placed more than 51,000 jobs at risk, but the numbers are still lower than the peaks of June, July and September.
Senior economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation think-tank Rebecca McDonald said: “These figures show us that many businesses were planning lots of job losses back in October because they were very worried and concerned about the evolving economic situation, and how that would unfold over the winter.”
A number of big companies including Pret a Manger, the pub and brewing groups Greene King and Marston’s, and Manchester Airport were among those who made notifications.
Only companies planning more than 20 job losses are required to notify the government of their plans so the actual number of redundancies is likely to be higher than the 51,000 already announced.
The losses have come despite the billions of pounds spent by the government on supporting the economy since the pandemic hit in April and Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said repeatedly that the packages could not save every company or every job.
Experts believe the notifications were made because companies feared what would happen when the furlough scheme ran out at the end of October.
Ms McDonald said: “I think that the messy and last-minute approach that the chancellor took to his announcements in the autumn, especially about job support packages, will have contributed to the lack of certainty and unfortunately will have cost jobs.”
However, furlough has now been extended until the end of March 2021 so it is possible that some of the 51,000 cuts may not actually happen.
Actual redundancy numbers produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a record high of 314,000 between July and September, an increase of 181,000 over the previous quarter.