Responding to latest official employment statistics, showing unemployment rose to 4.8% in the three months to September, Tej Parikh, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, said:
“The pandemic continues to bring turbulence to the UK labour market.
“In the Autumn, employers faced difficult decisions around retaining staff as government support looked set to decline. The initial shape of the Jobs Support Scheme, originally expected to come into force this month, didn’t provide a smooth off-ramp from furlough.
“The extension of the furlough scheme through to March is welcome as it has given directors certainty to plan ahead for their staff. Unfortunately, the change appears to have come too late in the day for some.
“The promising news about a potential vaccine means there is still hope the labour market can emerge from the pandemic in reasonable shape, with ongoing government support. In the meantime, restrictions are putting a heavy burden on businesses, as low demand and a legacy of costs from the outbreak add to the pressure. Cutting Employers’ National Insurance Contributions could buoy firms’ employment plans while encouraging job creation where business plans have shifted.”