Covid forces unemployment rate up

Unemployment in the UK rose to 4.8% in the three months to September with notified redundancies rising by 314,000 in the same period.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said firms were making workers redundant in anticipation of the end of the furlough scheme at the end of October.

Extended

The scheme has now been extended to the end of March 2021 with firms being allowed to re-employ anyone made redundant after September 23rd and re-furlough them.

No figures are yet available for how many jobs were re-instated.

Analysts have said the extension came ‘too late in the day’ to save some jobs and further big rises in unemployment are expected.

Biggest rise

The jobless total rose by 243,000 in the three month period, the biggest rise since May 2009, with the biggest increase being in the 16-24 age group.

ONS spokesman Jonathon Athow said: “We’re seeing a continuation of a weakening of the labour market, fewer people on the payrolls and fewer people employed overall.

That is now passing through to increasing unemployment altogether.”

Furlough

He said 2.5 million people remain on furlough with ‘quite a lot of uncertainty’ about what will happen to them.

“We might see furlough creep up again and that might mean we don’t see any further big increases in redundancies or unemployment, but it’s way too early to tell what will happen.” he added.

Economist Suren Thiru of the British Chambers of Commerce said: “With firms facing another wave of severely diminished cashflow and revenue and with gaps in government support persisting, further substantial rises in unemployment remain likely in the coming months.”

Apprenticeships

News has also emerged of a drop in the number of apprenticeship posts in the UK.

Figures from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) show that the number of posts withdrawn between March and July this year is almost double that for the same period in 2019.

Higher

In the first three months of lockdown, 1,033 people in England had to withdraw from apprenticeship programmes because they had been made redundant and the ESFA admitted the total number might be higher as some losses may not have been registered as redundancies.

Separate date from a survey by the Sutton Trust in October showed that 12% of apprenticeships had been made redundant compared to 8% in April.

Risk

Apprenticeships minister Gillian Keegan said: “Redundancy is always a risk when you have got this sort of disruption in your economy so we were very focused very early on to do as much as we could to support and protect apprentices.”

The support includes allowing apprentices to be furloughed and continue their training while not working. From August to January firms will get £2,000 for each apprentice under 25 to be hired and £1,500 for anyone over 25.