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Source: Labour List UK

J J Ellison / CC BY-SA 3.0

The TUC has declared that “ministers must get to grips with how to stop disproportionate BAME unemployment” after it was revealed that 22% of BAME workers furloughed during lockdown have since lost their jobs.

A study from independent think tank the Resolution Foundation released today, titled ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’has highlighted that 19% of furloughed young people have become unemployed in recent months.

The new report, based on an online survey of 6,061 adults, expresses fears about the effects of the national furlough scheme being wound down this month and suggests UK unemployment could currently be at 7%.

Commenting on the new report, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Losing your job is terrible at any time, but it’s especially hard now when few employers are recruiting new workers.

“Stopping the devastation of mass unemployment must be the government’s top priority. The ‘kickstart’ scheme must get young unemployed workers into good jobs on the real living wage.

“Ministers must get to grips with how to stop disproportionate BAME unemployment. And they should up the wages guarantee in the job support scheme to 80%, to protect jobs in the tough winter ahead.

“The country should invest now to create good new jobs in green tech, in social care and in the public services we all rely on. Stopping mass unemployment and everyone having a decent job with fair pay is how we get out of this recession.”

The Resolution Foundation has found that around half of surveyed workers who have been furloughed during the crisis have returned to work full-time, a third are still fully or partially furloughed and 9% have lost their jobs.

The report suggests that the post-furlough fall into unemployment is most common among 18- to 24-year-olds and BAME workers, as well as those previously on insecure contracts, 22% of whom have been made unemployed.

It indicates that the UK unemployment rate could be 7%, well above the latest official figure of 4.5% for the three months to August, and estimated that youth unemployment is as high as 20% – the highest levels in four decades.

Just 43% of those who have lost their jobs after March found work by September, the report says, with this figure falling to 33% among young people and 36% for those in hard-hit sectors such as hospitality.

The report also indicates that 28% of staff still in work in September are worried about further redundancies, have been told redundancies will take place, or have been told they will be made redundant themselves.

London has been particularly badly affected by rising unemployment according to the new study, with 28% of surveyed workers who were unemployed, on furlough or on fewer hours living in the capital.

The Resolution Foundation’s Kathleen Henehan said: “The first eight months of the Covid crisis have been marked by an almighty economic shock and unprecedented support that has cushioned the impact in terms of people’s livelihoods.

“But the true nature of Britain’s jobs crisis is starting to reveal itself. Around one-in-five young people, and over one-in-five BAME workers, have fallen straight from furloughing into unemployment.

“Worryingly, fewer than half of those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic have been able to find work since. This suggests that even if the public health crisis recedes in a few months’ time, Britain’s jobs crisis will be with us for far longer.”

The Labour Party has repeatedly expressed fears about the sharp rise in unemployment that will likely follow the winding down of the furlough scheme by the Chancellor at the end of this month.

Its replacement, the job support scheme, is far less generous and in its initial form was predicted to save just 230,000 jobs and leave just under two million people in otherwise viable professions unemployed.

The Chancellor has since announced changes to the scheme and put forward a local furlough for areas under restrictions, but Labour has argued that the plan is still flawed, with one party source saying it had “more holes in it than Swiss cheese”.

Labour argued last month that the government had “failed to act to protect Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities” after a report showed BAME people were almost three times as likely to have lost their job as a result of Covid.

MIL OSI United Kingdom