Skip to content


UK unemployment crisis intensifies as 314,000 made redundant in Q3

A record 314,000 people were made redundant in three months to September as company bosses prepared for the original end date of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the UK unemployment rate has risen sharply to 4.8 per cent – 0.9 per cent higher than a year ago and 0.6 per cent higher than the previous quarter.

This corresponds to an estimated 1.62 million people out of work – 318,000 more than a year earlier and 243,000 more than the previous quarter.

The quarter-on-quarter increase in joblessness is the largest since the global financial crisis a decade ago.

Moreover, the total number of people in PAYE employment is now 782,000 lower than in March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began.

What the ONS data confirms is that the proposed unwinding of the CJRS has had a significant negative impact on the labour market.

The CJRS has now been extended through until March 2021 in light of the new UK-wide lockdown to get coronavirus infections back under control.

More positively, the unemployment benefit claimant count dropped slightly in October to 2.6 million and there were signs that job vacancies in the UK had started to recover.

There were an estimated 525,000 vacancies in the three months to October, which is 146,000 more than the previous quarter but still well below pre-pandemic levels.

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “The rise in the unemployment rate and redundancies is further evidence that the damage being done to the UK jobs market by the coronavirus pandemic is intensifying.

“While there was a rise in the number of job vacancies, this is more likely to reflect a temporary bounce as the economy reopened before recent restrictions were reintroduced, rather than a meaningful upturn in demand for labour.

“The extension to the furlough scheme will safeguard a significant number of jobs in the near term.

“However, with firms facing another wave of severely diminished cashflow and revenue and with gaps in government support persisting, further substantial rises in unemployment remain likely in the coming months.

“Increased grant support for businesses impacted by restrictions is urgently needed to help businesses protect jobs, particularly given the delay to the job retention bonus.

“Closing the remaining gaps in government support, including for some self-employed and company directors must also be a key priority.”