EMPLOYERS across the UK planned to make more than 300,000 workers redundant in June and July due to coronavirus.
A whopping 1,784 firms made plans to cut nearly 150,000 jobs in July, almost a sevenfold increase on July 2019, according to a Freedom of Information request by the BBC.
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Meanwhile, 1,888 bosses filed plans for 156,000 job cuts in June, a sixfold increase on the previous year.
But official employment statistics, which are typically a few months behind what is happening on the ground, don’t yet show such a big increase in the unemployment rate or redundancies.
In June and July, the number of workers on payroll fell by 188,000 people in total, according to figures by the Office for National Statistics.
Although Nye Cominetti, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation think tank, said the data gives an indication of where we’re heading in the coming months.
Firms planning 20 or more redundancies must notify the Insolvency Service via a form called HR1, saying how many roles they want to lose – and it’s this data the BBC uncovered in its investigation.
But employers planning fewer than 20 redundancies don’t have to file this notice, so the overall planned total of redundancies will be even higher.
Companies in Northern Ireland file HR1 forms with the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, so they’re not included in these figures.
Boots, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Zizzi owner Azzurri were among big brands to announce redundancy plans in July.
In fact, one in three firms expected to make some staff redundant between July and September, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and recruiter Adecco.
The furlough scheme, where the government temporarily pays the wages of workers, is coming to an end in October, raising fears that employers will have to cut even more jobs later in the year.
Since the scheme’s launch, 9.6million workers have been furloughed.
Research from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research claims the end of the scheme in October will make 1.2million Brits unemployed by Christmas.
Mr Cominetti told The Sun: “The businesses making these announcements in this summer, even while furloughing was still fully in place, are the ones which are not expecting any big pickup in demand any time soon.
“The reason this data is so useful is that all our other official data is coming through with a time lag.
“This puts policy makers in a really challenging situation.
“The main government support schemes are coming to an end, but in terms of the official data, we still don’t know how big the jobs crisis is, or where we’re heading as we move into the autumn.”
He added that the data, taken alongside other business surveys and forecasts, paints “a fairly bleak and consistent picture of the next couple of months”.
It comes as the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that unemployment could hit 3million this year.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) told The Sun the government has already protected 9.6million jobs through the furlough scheme, as well as paid out billions in loans and grants to thousands of businesses.
It said: “We are continuing to support livelihoods and incomes through our plan for jobs to ensure that nobody is left without hope or opportunity.
“This includes a £1,000 retention bonus for businesses that can bring furloughed employees back to work.
“We are also creating new roles for young people with our Kickstart scheme, creating incentives for training and apprenticeships, and supporting and protecting jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors through our VAT cut and last month’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.”