Responding to the release of the latest ONS labour market figures and the continued rises in unemployment and redundancies, Chris Fletcher, Director of Policy at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said, “These figures are the latest evidence of the damage being done to the economy and people’s lives by the Covid19 pandemic and the measures being used to fight it.
“There was a rise in job vacancies during this period but the numbers involved were nowhere near enough to offset the number of job losses. This period only covers the months leading up to what many see as the start of the current wave of the pandemic and a return to harsher restrictions. So in effect they are the calm before the current storm.
“The number of redundancies mirrors what many were saying would happen in the lead up to the planned original end of furlough – and whilst this scheme has been extended to March the feeling is that this decision came too late for many.
“Young people seem to be bearing the brunt, but for anyone caught up in this it is obviously a desperate time. This is why it is vital the government has to start to focus on job creation as much as it has on job retention under the furlough scheme. Businesses are feeling the pinch with decreasing cash reserves, lower demand and closures in key trading periods which many rely on to tip their annual performance into profit. Without the right support many will not be in a position to look to grow or expand or even still be trading when restrictions ease.
“Here in Greater Manchester many businesses have not had any break from some form of restriction or another since last March and we urge government to let us know what the plans are now for the end of this current lockdown period. It is unfair to ask them to wait till the very last minute before these decisions are made which may impact on whether some businesses survive or not.”