‘Half a million jobs could be lost this autumn’

The Institute for Employment Studies estimates redundancies could reach 735,000 by the autumn as a new study from Aviva finds 1 in 10 people plan to look for a remote working job this year.

Redundancy on red paper with brown paper over the top ripped to reveal the word


Employers in Britain are planning more than twice as many redundancies than they did at the height of the last recession, according to the Institute for Employment Studies.

About 180,000 job cuts were planned from January to March 2009, while 380,000 were planned from May to July this year. Completed redundancies could reach 735,000 this autumn, researchers say. The figures on potential job losses come from a Freedom of Information request looking at notifications of planned job losses lodged with the Insolvency Service.

The IES is calling for the government to take action in the forthcoming Spending Review in three areas, including delivering a rapid response service to provide employment and training support to those facing redundancy, raising the threshold at which employers start paying National Insurance Contributions and targeting support for firms and industries facing short-term disruption due to the pandemic but that remain viable in the longer-term.

IES Director Tony Wilson said:“This data lays bare the scale of the jobs crisis that we’re facing in the autumn, with half a million people likely to lose their jobs in the coming months.  The sad reality is that this restructuring cannot be averted entirely, but we can do a lot more to minimise the job losses and support those who are most at risk.

“Our top priority must be to support those facing the prospect of losing their jobs to find new, secure and good quality work as quickly as possible.  At the same time we are in the midst now of a significant recession and we need urgent action to support employment demand.  The best way to do this would be to reduce labour taxes, by raising the threshold at which employers pay National Insurance.

“We also mustn’t accept that all of these redundancies are inevitable.  Although most of those who were furloughed by their employers are now back at work, there are still many parts of the economy where perfectly viable businesses cannot bring people back because of the ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic.  So we need tightly targeted support to help these firms ride out the next few months, where they can commit to not laying staff off.”


Meanwhile, a survey from insurance firm Aviva finds more than half of UK workers plan to make changes to their careers in the next year – from reducing their hours and retraining or upskilling to starting a business and looking for a remote working job.

The survey of 4,002 randomly selected UK adults aged 16 and upwards by insurance company Aviva says the changes are a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. Its How We Live report finds the most popular career aspiration emerging from the crisis is the desire for flexibility. One in 10 (10%) workers say that in the next 12 months they aim to find a role that will allow them to work from home.

The desire to work from home is strongest in London where one in six workers intend to find a role which will allow them to work remotely. This compares to just three per cent or workers in the East of England.

Just behind the hope for flexibility is the aspiration to retrain or learn new skills, a plan for 9% of UK workers. This rises to 15% of people aged 25-34. Echoing this view, 8% of workers hope to gain more academic qualifications in the next 12 months.

Covid-19 has also expedited some people’s retirement plans. Within the 55-64 age group, 10% of workers say they plan to retire within the next 12 months, as a direct result of the Covid situation.

The How We Live report also found that almost half of the nation’s adults (45%) have tried their hand at new hobbies in 2020, provoking further ideas for career changes.

Six per cent of hobbyists intend to transform a hobby into a career, while a further 9% plan to gain a second source of income through their new side-line.

Gareth Hemming, MD, Personal Lines, for Aviva says: “The additional time at home and the temporary closure of many services has meant that people have found different ways to use their time, and in some cases developed new skills. Lockdown has also allowed time to reflect on lifestyles and vocations, so it’s possible that innovative career paths may be forged, making use of these new talents.”

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