'Worst is behind us' | Furlough MASS REDUNDANCY fears overhyped, expert hints

Furlough MASS REDUNDANCY fears overhyped, expert hints

Fears of a huge rise in unemployment following the end of the furlough scheme have so far been unfounded, early data has suggested.

According to the BBC, the number of redundancies proposed by employers in September was close to record lows.

The data stands in stark contrast to growing fears in recent weeks that the axeing of the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (furlough) could lead to mass job losses, with many firms not yet seeing enough recovery to take all furloughed staff back on full wages.

However, the BBC said many businesses with large numbers of furloughed workers had reported taking everyone back, and unions had not heard of major redundancy processes.

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In fact, just over 200 firms across Britain informed the Government of plans to make redundancies last month, with a total of 13,836 jobs at risk.

Around one million workers were thought to be on furlough when the scheme ended on September 30th.

It is worth noting, however, that the figures don't include small and medium-sized firms, as employers are only obliged to notify the Government when making 20 or more jobs redundant.

‘Worst is behind us’

Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute of Employment Studies, said: "With estimates of actual redundancies and of real-time online searches related to redundancy both lower than before the pandemic, it looks like the worst is well and truly behind us now on job losses”.

Just three days before the furlough scheme was shuttered for good, research from Renovo, an employment support specialist, suggested that nearly seven in 10 employers (69%) expect to make redundancies within the next year, the majority of which will take place within the coming months.

However, for employees, concerns over redundancy were not explicitly linked to the end of the furlough scheme. Fifty-six percent of employees surveyed, who are worried about being made redundant within the next year, are not on furlough.

Gov’s new £500m support scheme

The Government has also introduced a post-furlough funding boost for firms in a bid to curb any redundancies, and tackle the country’s current labour crisis.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the new scheme at the Tory party conference in Manchester in early October. The new measures will include prioritising those coming off furlough for one-to-one support from jobcentres and extending until 31 January the £3,000 incentive for employers to take on apprentices.

Ed Hussey, Director of People Solutions at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP, said: “This support package is welcome news for the many thousands of UK workers finding themselves out of work and without the support of the furlough scheme. The only question is, will it be enough to help them to find jobs, so they can at last get on with their lives?

“Businesses can play their part in helping people back to work, at the same time as strengthening their skills base, by taking advantage of the Government’s decision to extend the KickStart Scheme until March next year. This scheme is designed to benefit young people on Universal Credit and has been proving popular with both employers and workers.

"The decision to extend the £3,000 incentive for businesses taking on a new apprentice to the end of January 2021 could also help to fill skills gaps. Employers can maximise their subsidies and support by using the KickStart Scheme as a trial period for new employees, the best of whom can then become an apprentice, and there is lots of free support available for companies to navigate the process and maximise their benefits."

Hussey concluded: “The decision to extend the period of support is significant as it is clear that the pandemic is continuing to cause disruption for many sectors, at a time when households are being affected by rising costs. The measures announced are just for the short-term however, and there is a risk that the economic cliff-edge facing many households has just been pushed a bit further away."

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