Planned redundancies in the UK fell in November. According to Insolvency Service data, redundancies hit their lowest in Britain since Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns began in March.
Redundancies peaked in June at 156,000, but November saw 36,700 redundancies proposed. The BBC reported on the data following a Freedom of Information request. Employers are obliged to notify the Insolvency Service when they plan to make 20 or more employees redundant.
All of England saw lockdown restrictions imposed in November. Wales and Scotland also had tight restrictions in place, as coronavirus cases began to rise across the country. While planned redundancies were 32% higher than last year, the number was much lower than in previous months. Planned redundancies rose sharply after the first lockdown in the spring. Figures were the highest in June and July, before dropping in August.
Furlough extension helping
During the November lockdown, chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced an extension to the furlough scheme. The scheme was initially meant to wind up at the end of October. The chancellor first extended the scheme until the end of March, and subsequently until April 30, 2021, to avoid a significant rise in job losses.
British business is not out of the woods yet. Employers must now deal with the economic consequences of the new coronavirus variant. There has been a string of new measures in place, with disruption across the UK and to international trade. Experts are also warning about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit and its impact on redundancy figures in the months ahead.
Early view of the job market
The data is an indicative look at what is likely to happen in the months ahead. The Office for National Statistics will publish its own redundancy data later, which will be more comprehensive. It includes all redundancies, but only after the redundancy has been finalised. The Insolvency Service data reports planned redundancies, and employers may make fewer people redundant than they thought.
While November’s figures show the furlough scheme to be working, the data is unlikely to include some of the significant layoffs announced in November. The closure of Arcadia and Debenhams affected 25,000 jobs and was likely not reported in the data. Redundancies are also a lot higher than in previous years. ONS data shows redundancies hit 370,000 in the three months to October, which was the highest figure since records began in 1991.
The next few months will be crucial in seeing how the fallout from the second lockdown develops. Future figures may show a steady stream of redundancies instead of a massive spike. However, the newly discovered Covid-19 variant and the potential for another lockdown may also prove influential.