Responding to the latest labour market figures from the ONS published Tuesday, Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said:
“There are few surprises in today’s data, and we know that tackling rising unemployment will be a national priority over the next few months. But news in the past week – of progress on a vaccine and in the extension of support packages – should mean businesses have more confidence to retain people and bring on new staff than they had a couple of weeks ago.
“Nevertheless, we are in a tough spot with redundancies hitting a record a record 314,000 in the three months to September. The focus needs to be on measures that will help employers retain staff and create new jobs, starting with a sensible approach to tax. Reducing employers National Insurance contributions, the biggest tax on business, will help struggling businesses retain jobs while encouraging those which need extra capacity to hire more staff.
“We now have 50 days until the Brexit transition period ends. The restarting of negotiations is promising but every effort must be made now to secure a deal that ensures businesses can continue to trade, especially in services which makes up 80% of our economy.”
Jonathan Boys, CIPD Labour Market Economist comments:
“A modest recovery in hours worked reflects the summer reopening when large numbers of people gradually moved off furlough. Some sectors were able to make hay while the sun shone, but we now know coronavirus cases were rising. Furlough helped to limit jobs losses and protected incomes, and it is therefore right that the Government has extended it until the end of March – especially in light of promising news on a vaccine. This will boost business confidence and help stabilise employment through to the spring. Businesses now have a scheme that they understand and a reasonable timeframe in which to conduct workforce planning.
“However, unemployment rose sharply this quarter and redundancies increased by a record number. The CIPD’s latest forward-looking Labour Market Outlook report suggests that redundancy activity will remain high in the three months to December and could therefore surpass the total number experienced after the financial crash. The economic pain of the pandemic has been cushioned by furlough and other government support schemes but will start to increase over the winter. We believe the Government needs to do more to help people upskill and reskill beyond what’s been outlined in the Kickstart scheme and Lifetime Skills Guarantee. This includes reforming the Apprenticeship Levy and increasing access to lifelong learning.”