Employment above pre-pandemic levels despite end of furlough scheme

16 November 2021, 07:12 | Updated: 16 November 2021, 07:56

The number of people employed in the UK has increased
The number of people employed in the UK has increased. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Employment in the UK has surged and remains above pre-pandemic levels despite the furlough scheme coming to an end, according to new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

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The number of UK workers on payrolls rose by 0.6 per cent - or 160,000 - between September and October, meaning it now stands to 29.3 million.

Sam Beckett, ONS head of economic statistics, said that whilst the data was "early" there was "no sign" of a surge in redundancies as a result of the scheme coming to and end.

"It might take a few months to see the full impact of furlough coming to an end, as people who lost their jobs at the end of September could still be receiving redundancy pay," said Ms Beckett.

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"However, October's early estimate shows the number of people on the payroll rose strongly on the month and stands well above its pre-pandemic level."

She added: "There is also no sign of an upturn in redundancies and businesses tell us that only a very small proportion of their previously furloughed staff have been laid off.

"In addition, vacancies again reached a new record high."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak welcomed the figures, saying they were "testament to the extraordinary success" of the Government's job-retention scheme.

"Today’s numbers are testament to the extraordinary success of the furlough scheme and welcome evidence that our Plan for Jobs has worked," said Mr Sunak.

"We know how vital keeping people in good jobs is, both for them and for our economy – which is why it’s fantastic to see the unemployment rate falling for 9 months in a row and record numbers of people moving into employment.

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"Our Plan for Jobs is at the heart of our vision for a stronger economy for the British people, with schemes like Kickstart and Sector Based Work Academies continuing to create opportunities for people up and down the country."

Employment minister Mims Davies said the figures were proof the Government's plan was "working".

"With over 100,000 young people landing roles through the Kickstart scheme, more people on payrolls this quarter in all corners of the country, and unemployment continuing to fall, it is clear our Plan for Jobs is working," said Ms Davies.

"From Ashford to Aberdeen, our brilliant DWP Work Coaches are matching jobseekers to local vacancies in growing sectors and supporting people – at any age and any career stage – to seize that next opportunity, get into work and progress."

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The ONS data also showed that job vacancies reached a new record high, up 388,000 between August and October to 1.17 million as the reopening of the economy continued to drive demand for recruitment.

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