Commenting on the ONS labour market statistics for December 2020, published today, BCC Head of Economics Suren Thiru said:

The latest data confirms that coronavirus continues to weighheavily on the UK labour market. The re-introduction of tighter restrictions and the expected cliff edge caused by the original furlough scheme end date in October helped driverecord redundancies.

“While the furlough scheme will help safeguard many jobs over the winter months, with businesses facing the prospect of further restrictions and a messy end to the Brexit transition period, major job losses remain probable in the near term. 

“Failure to achieve a UK-EU trade deal risks adding to the longer-term structural unemployment caused by the pandemic by limiting the competitiveness and viability of some industries.    

“To help protect jobs and livelihoods, increased grant funding to ease the current squeeze on business cashflow and closing the gaps in government support remains vital. Delivering a UK-EU trade deal that provides clarity and certainty to businesses iscrucial to avoid further damaging the UK jobs market already weakened by the pandemic.”