LONDON: Britain’s unemployment rate jumped above four percent in July on economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed on Tuesday. The rate grew to 4.1 percent in the three months to the end of July from 3.9 percent the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.
The number of people claiming jobless benefits stood at 2.7 million in August, up almost 121 percent since March when Britain went into lockdown over the virus. According to a BBC report, young people were particularly hard hit, with those aged 16 to 24 suffering the biggest drop in employment compared with other age groups.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said “helping people get back into, or finding new work” was his “number one priority”.But in a briefing to the Cabinet on the economy, he reaffirmed a decision not to extend the government’s Job Retention Scheme which ends on 31 October.
Mr Sunak told colleagues that “indefinitely keeping people out of work is not the answer”, but added that he would “be creative” in finding ways of helping people.
New data from the Office for National Statistics showed that firms continued to remove staff from payrolls as they prepare for the end of the scheme. Some 695,000 UK workers disappeared from the payrolls of British companies since March, when the coronavirus lockdown began.
The government has launched a scheme called Kickstart to create work placements for unemployed young people. Employers will be paid £1,500 for every 16-24 year old they train.