Redundancies surge to record level as UK ‘stares down mass unemployment barrel’

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The number of people made redundant from August to October surged to 370,000 – more than in any other quarter on record.

The figure was up by 251,000 on that period in 2019 and up by a record 217,000 on the previous quarter.

Latest labour market figures from the Office for National Statistics show unemployment in the UK increased to 4.9% in the three months.

However, the rise was less sharp than economists expected at 5.1%.

The number of people on payrolls is down by 819,000 since February with the jobless total at 1.7 million.

The Government’s 11th hour extension to the furlough scheme may have been too late for thousands of people as firms began to lay off staff in anticipation of the original expiry date of October 31.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “Overall we have seen a continuation of recent trends, with a further weakening in the labour market.”

Hospitality – which has faced the strictest restrictions – was the worst hit sector acc-ounting for a third of job losses, followed by retail.

Unemployment is expect to continue to rise and peak at 9.7% this year, according to the Office for Budgetary Responsibility.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “Ministers must step up and create jobs. We could create 1.9 million new jobs in the next two years in green transport and infrastructure, and by unlocking public sector vacancies.

“We are staring down the barrel of mass unemployment. There’s no time left to waste.”