The UK’s unemployment rate rose to 5% in the three months to November 2020, according to ONS figures, with more than 200,000 people having lost their jobs in the three-month period.
The hospitality sector has been the worst hit, with the number of unemployed up by more than 50,000 year-on-year.
There are now 1.72 million people out of work, and 828,000 fewer people on company payrolls through December compared to February 2020, marking the highest level of unemployment in the UK since 2016. Parts of London have seen the highest percentage falls, followed by north-eastern Scotland.
The report also shows the effectiveness of the Government’s furlough scheme, which was shielding 2.4 million workers from unemployment at the end of October 2020, down from a peak of 8.9 million in May.
Last week UKHospitality Cymru executive director David Chapman called for the need for “a new and potent cash cocktail of financial support” to help businesses survive and avoid mass unemployment in the country.
“It is possible we will face enforced closures or very limited trading possibly to Easter and even beyond, and with vital Westminster help running out, a serious financial cliff edge is looming large on the horizon,” he said.
“We need a further protected and ring-fenced sector specific fund in Wales that can extend existing assistance and, in particular, this should focus on our businesses that provide jobs to local people.”
Responding to the ONS findings, Chancellor Rishi Sunak admitted that the pandemic had gone on longer than the Government had initially forecast but that it would continue to support employers to help safeguard jobs.
“We’re throwing everything we’ve got at supporting businesses, individuals and families,” he said.
“Our Plan for Jobs includes grants and loans so that firms can keep employees on, the furlough scheme to help protect jobs, and programmes like Kickstart alongside record investment in skills so that people can find their first job, their next job or a new job if needed.”