The Government must urgently put in place help for people to find work, as the number of people who are long-term unemployed risks surging as high as 1.6 million next year.
The number of people out of work for 12 months or more, the definition of long-term unemployment, could be six times higher than today and the highest on records dating back to 1994, a new Learning and Work Institute report shows.
This worrying picture is the result of the increase in unemployment seen during the crisis and the likelihood of a slower recovery as economic restrictions are tightened again to limit the spread of the virus. As a result, more people are likely to lose their jobs over the winter and those out of work will find their opportunities to find new jobs more limited.
Long-term unemployment is particularly damaging: the longer someone is out of work the less likely they are to find a new job, and this can affect people’s health and wellbeing. Being unemployed while young can have long lasting ‘scarring’ effects on young people’s pay and job prospects.
The Government’s Plan for Jobs included a welcome increase in Jobcentre Plus staff and the new Job Support Scheme aims to help protect jobs in the hardest-hit sectors. However, the new research finds these will not be enough to prevent a huge rise in the numbers of people unable to find work, with the latest data showing a record quarterly rise in redundancies.
Up to 225,000 people could become long-term unemployed in April 2021 alone, triple the number of people referred at the start of the Work Programme, which was introduced to tackle long-term unemployment after the last recession. This could risk overwhelming Jobcentre Plus without extra support.
The report calls for an extra £4 billion next year to ensure that sufficient support is in place for the growing numbers of long-term unemployed.