The scale of the jobs challenge is clear: data shows that claimant unemployment has already increased by 1.6 million in just two months, and our research estimates that around 10 million workers remain at risk of unemployment. Even without a second wave of the virus, the unemployment rate is forecast to hit double figures this year.
Our analysis also found that local authorities with a higher proportion of furloughed employments are already more likely to have a higher proportion of their population claiming benefits. As the furlough scheme is wound down, and if a comprehensive programme of employment and skills support is not put in place, pre-existing inequalities will be further exacerbated.
Unemployment comes at a high cost, both to individuals and the economy, and this recession is unique for its sectoral nature, meaning a large number of workers will need not only need to find new jobs, but to retrain and switch careers.
We are therefore calling on the Government to put in place a comprehensive and ambitious package of support to avert the worst employment crisis since the Great Depression.
In total the proposed package could cost £3.2 billion – or 5 per cent of what the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme is expected to cost. We cannot afford to delay. It is already more than three months since the start of lockdown. As discussed above, waiting for furloughed workers to become unemployed before support is offered risks damaging the recovery and scarring a generation of workers.