Coventry reacts to record drop in employment

C&W Chamber of Commerce has called on the Government to make it easier for employers to keep on staff by reducing National Insurance contributions.

People walking into Job Centre Plus to seek employment

Employment in the UK fell by the largest amount in over a decade between April and June, official figures released this week have revealed.

The number of people in work decreased by 220,000 in the quarter, reported the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – the largest quarterly decrease since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009.

The youngest workers, oldest workers and those in manual occupations have been worst hit by the pandemic, the ONS added.

The news comes as many companies with operations in Coventry, including WHSmith and Debenhams, announce thousands of layoffs.

Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire believe employment will fall further without additional help for firms to keep people in work.

Louise Bennett, the chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said the coming months would see businesses across the region making critical decisions.

She said: “Each individual person losing their job as a consequence of the crisis is extremely sad. 

“These have been extremely difficult times for everyone and businesses across our patch have been working incredibly hard to survive.

“The Government support – particularly furlough – has worked to limit jobs losses but as that scheme is being phased out in the next couple of months, the evidence from Chamber surveys suggests more jobs will go.

“Therefore, it’s vitally important that the Government does all it can to lower the costs of employing staff, such as reducing employer National Insurance contributions and expanding the Employment Allowance. 

“As well as that, we still need to see further targeted support for certain sectors that have been more severely affected by the crisis.”

The newly released figures do not include the millions of people who are furloughed, on zero-hours contracts and getting no shifts, or people on unpaid leave from a job, leaving many to believe unemployment figures will continue to grow.

Taiwo Owatemi, MP for Coventry North West, last month delivered a speech in Parliament expressing her concern at the rate of unemployment and limited Government action.

“I am keen to make sure we re-skill as many people as possible in Coventry and I am lobbying the government and local employers to continue supporting people in work and help them back into good quality, well-paid jobs,” she said.

Just last week, Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South, called on the Chancellor to continue the furlough scheme in order to protect jobs.

“Coventry is on course to be hit by a wave of job losses in the next few months, which will intensify if the furlough scheme is wound-down as planned”, she said.