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13 October 2021

Despite alarming media reports forecasting significant numbers of redundancies following the end of the Job Retention Scheme at the end of September 2021, this has not in fact materialised.

In August 2021, the penultimate month of the scheme, 1.3 million workers remained on it. This number may seem significant; however this was an 85% reduction of the schemes peak in May 2020.  

According to government figures, in fact, collective redundancies were at a 7-year low in August 2021. However, whilst this figure will be of some comfort, it does not say anything about the situation for individual redundancies, involving 19 or less people.

Positive news comes from employers who had furloughed a large number of workers, with reports saying that many of those furloughed were continuing with their employment. As a result, fewer people are out of work than was feared, including amongst young people (for whom ONS data shows decreased unemployment and inactivity rates). This, coupled with the impact of Brexit on the supply of new workers, has meant that vacancies between July and September were at a 20-year high, with 3.7 job openings for every 100 employee jobs.

The impact of this is already being seen, with higher than normal wages being offered and lucrative signing on bonuses being seen for work such as warehousing and lorry driving. Employers must now however balance this trend for higher wages against the need of the business, and perhaps get creative with their benefit offerings for a more affordable alternative.