A glance at the latest report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), released on 15 December, will make it obvious why the chancellor has been panicked into extending the furlough scheme into April.
The Labour Force Survey (LFS) has found that the number of people reporting as redundant increased in the three months from August to October by a record 251,000 compared to the same period in 2019 and by a record 217,000 compared to the previous quarter, putting the current total of UK redundancies at 370,000.
And that’s not factoring in redundancies planned for the near future, which promise to be plentiful indeed.
The ONS estimates that the UK employment rate in the three months to October 2020, was 75.2 percent, 0.9 percentage points lower than a year earlier and 0.5 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.
The ONS shows conversely that the UK unemployment rate in the three months to October stands at 4.9 percent, 1.2 percentage points higher than a year earlier and already 0.7 percentage points higher than the previous quarter.
And this is after the figures have been tweaked and massaged, shorn of the ‘economically inactive’, the bogus ‘self-employed’ and the thousands of underemployed workers scraping by on zero-hour contracts.
The real figure is far higher and set to climb astronomically in the near future, despite the government’s many attempts to soften the blow by labelling many really unemployed workers, eking out a miserable existence on 80 percent of the already unliveable minimum wage, as ‘furloughed’.
No wonder Sunak is in a blind panic.