Fewer redundancies planned after furlough extension

There was a fall in the number of jobs at risk of redundancy in November, despite a second lockdown in England and other restrictions in Wales and Scotland.

Figures released to the BBC in response to a freedom of information request show that employers in Britain were preparing to make 36,700 redundancies last month. That’s down from a peak of 156,000 in June and is the lowest number of planned redundancies since lockdown restrictions were introduced in March.

Under legislation that applies in England, Scotland and Wales, employers must notify the Insolvency Service if they plan to make 20 or more workers redundant in any single “establishment” using a form called HR1.

The figures suggest that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision to extend the furlough scheme until the end of April 2021 has helped to protect jobs.

Sainsbury’s, Gregg’s, John Lewis, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Jaeger and were among the companies that announced job cuts in November.

However, around 25,000 more jobs could be lost with the failure of big retailers Arcadia and Debenhams, if the two groups are unable to find buyers. Topshop owner Arcadia fell into administration at the end of November and the news was swiftly followed by the end of last-ditch efforts to rescue department store chain Debenhams, which had been in administration since April.

For now, the November figures provide “encouragement that there will be a steady trickle, rather than a tsunami, of job losses over the next few months,” said Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at consultancy Capital Economics.

Uncertainty over furlough scheme ‘cost jobs’

Employers in Britain were preparing to make 51,000 redundancies in October, new figures reveal.

It came amid rapidly rising levels of Covid-19 infections and uncertainty over changes to job support schemes.

The UK Government’s furlough scheme, paying 80% of an employee’s wages, was due to end on 31 October. On the final day of the scheme it was extended for another month, and then on 5 November it was extended until the end of March.

Figures released to the BBC in response to a freedom of information request show that during October a total of 842 employers told the Government of plans to cut 20 or more jobs.

Under legislation that applies in England, Scotland and Wales, employers must notify the Insolvency Service if they plan to make 20 or more workers redundant in any single “establishment” using a form called HR1.

“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,” Rebecca McDonald, senior economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, told BBC News.

McDonald added that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s “messy and last-minute approach” to announcements about job support “contributed to the lack of certainty and unfortunately will have cost jobs”.

Although the October figures are almost two-and-a-half times the level seen in October last year, they are lower than those recorded in June, July and September.