Chancellor urged to extend furlough as sixty per cent increase in redundancies reported across Yorkshire

Over fifty thousand people in Yorkshire have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic, new data has revealed.

The figures, from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show the unemployment rate has soared to its highest level for more than four years.

Unemployment reached five per cent in the quarter for the first time since early 2016.

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Analysis of the figures by the TUC show that West Yorkshire has borne the greatest brunt of redundancies in the region.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to extend the furlough scheme after redundancy rates in Yorkshire increased

There was a sixty per cent increase in redundancies compared to September-November 2019 with 23,622 job losses in West Yorkshire, 8,513 in East Yorkshire; 8040 in North Yorkshire and 13,900 in South Yorkshire.

And there are fears for even higher job loss levels should the government’s Job Retentions Scheme end as planned in April.

TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams said: “The more people we keep in work, the faster we can recover. But with the job retention scheme set to end in April, millions of people’s jobs hang in the balance.

“When the government planned to withdraw support last autumn, despite restrictions still being in place, unemployment surged. We can’t let that happen again.

“Conservative MPs in our region have a duty to act and save their constituents’ livelihoods. They have the power to influence the Chancellor.

“It’s time to end the uncertainty and anxiety. The Chancellor must urgently extend furlough support to the end of the year to keep jobs safe.”

As the number of unemployed nationwide rose to a five-year high of 1.72 million, redundancies also surged to a new record and the growth in vacancies halved as the second wave of the pandemic struck.

Experts said the Government's move to extend the furlough scheme to April has helped cushion the blow, with tax data showing employees on company payrolls rose by 52,000 - or 0.2% - between November and December.

Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: "It is now crucial that the Job Retention Scheme and other Covid-19 economic support is extended beyond the spring to support employment as restrictions continue."

Employment also fell at its slowest pace since March, down 88,000 at 32.5 million.

But 828,000 workers have now been dropped from UK payrolls since February, before the pandemic hit.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "Whilst the NHS is working hard to protect people with the vaccine, we're throwing everything we've got at supporting businesses, individuals and families."

The ONS revealed a 168,000 rise in redundancies nationwide between September and November to a record 395,000.

The claimant count, another measure that includes people working with low income and hours as well as people who are not working, edged up by 0.3% to 2.6 million in December.

The early recovery in vacancies seen in the summer also slowed, with around 81,000 between October and December at 578,000 - half the level of growth in the previous three months.

The ONS said wages rose by 3.6% annually over the quarter to November, though it stressed that, with a high proportion of jobs axed being lower-paid roles, the underlying increase in wages is likely to be less than 2%.

It comes as new figures from Santander show six per cent of small and medium size businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber say they don’t expect to survive the pandemic, and more than a third (37 per cent) saying they have performed badly since the beginning of the pandemic.