Sara’s Blog: Reaction to latest ONS labour market figures and open letter from new County Council leader

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published labour market figures for August 2020 on Tuesday.

While the headline data continues to lag behind the reality, the decline in number of employees on payrolls and hours worked is further evidence of the damage being done to the UK labour market by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The job retention scheme has been successful in preserving millions of jobs through furlough. However, with firms continuing to face a perfect storm of increased costs, reduced demand, and diminished cash reserves, unemployment is likely to surge as government support schemes wind down in the next two months.

We are already seeing a steady stream of redundancy announcements in Staffordshire across all sectors from retail to manufacturing and hospitality to services.

If job losses continue to accelerate, we can expect to see a further drop in consumer spending which will in turn lead to a downturn in production – a vicious cycle.

We are lobbying the government via the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), to reduce the cost of employment and prevent more redundancies through actions like an expansion of the Employment Allowance and a cut in employer NIC contributions.

If there are other issues you would like us to make representations on then please let us know by emailing: info@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

I was heartened to read an open letter to all businesses in the county, from Cllr Alan White, the new leader of Staffordshire County Council who replaces Cllr Philip Atkins.

Cllr White says: “ Our role as a county council is to create the right conditions for our economy to grow, for businesses to invest and create more jobs for our people which is the foundation of living a healthy, happy and productive life. Reigniting and renewing the economy, through investment in skills and training, and supporting businesses to adjust to a post Covid-19 world, is central. But we must also inspire and equip current and future generations to learn new skills and increase their potential throughout their lives.

So, whilst my attention is on long-term stability, it is also on continuing to support everyone through the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the virus has not gone away, and we must all continue to follow the rules to avoid any future lockdowns. To this end I’m urging all business leaders to help protect their livelihood by knowing what to do if an outbreak happens at their business. For some of you this will be defined when just one confirmed case is reported to you by employees, visitors or NHS Test and Trace. The government has developed a number of ‘action cards’ or quick-reference guides outlining the key steps to help you quickly identify, report and respond to any potential Covid-19 outbreak.”

Staffordshire County Council have always been supportive of business and especially the Chamber and it is extremely good news that we have such a proactive and pragmatic new leader giving his full attention to the recovery of the Staffordshire economy.

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002.

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