Lockdown leaves 2m in UK without work

A new report highlights the extent of job loss and long-term furlough during the pandemic.

Woman leans on a table looking depressed


Nearly two million people in the UK have been unable to work for at least six months after losing their jobs in the pandemic or being placed on furlough, according to a report from the Resolution Foundation.

Its calculations put the total at 1.9m, far steeper than official statistics that show a total of around 1.2m. The Long Covid in the labour market report says 700,000 workers had been unemployed for at least six months in January and a further 500,000 had been on full furlough, working no hours at all, for the same period.

The Foundation says that, while those on long-term furlough have had far greater financial support and have an easier route back into work (through their current employer), than those who have lost their jobs, they face many of the same challenges in terms of a loss of skills and missing out on earnings growth.

The report states that around 8 per cent of workers currently employed either expect to lose their jobs in the next three months or have been told that they would be made redundant. This figure rises to 21 per cent among those who have been furloughed for at least six months of the crisis. It calls for the extension of the furlough scheme for several months after public health restrictions have been lifted to give firms time to bring staff back. It adds that it should remain in place for longer in sectors still subject to legal restrictions, such as hospitality and leisure and be gradually phased out.

Meanwhile, a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce has found that one in four UK companies will have to lay off staff unless furlough support is extended beyond April 30th.

And a report from the Fabian Society shows over 700,000 people in working or disabled households are to be pulled into poverty by universal credit cuts which reverse temporary benefit policies introduced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the 20 pounds a week uplift in Universal Credit. It says households with a disabled adult will be worst hit, facing 57 per cent of the cuts while families with children will be hit by half the cuts and households where someone is a carer will be hit by 12 per cent. Only 13% of the savings will come from non-working, non-disabled households, it says.

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