Research reveals that the number of companies planning to cut jobs has fallen to the lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic. 

According to a Freedom of Information request made by the BBC, only 292 employers in the UK expressed plans to cut jobs in the first month of the year.

This equated to 32,000 redundancies being proposed which was a 9 per cent rise from the figures documented in January 2020.

This figure was also the lowest statistic on record since the beginning of the pandemic, excluding December. The Christmas period usually sees less activity due to the holidays.

Prior to this, November recorded the lowest number of planned redundancies on record with the numbers dropping to 36,700. Conversely, following the first lockdown, June recorded the highest number of planned redundancies with 156,000 employees expected to be affected.

Despite this, any employers who are making less than 20 redundancies do not have to inform the Government, meaning the number of employers that are cutting jobs is likely to be much higher.

This drop in planned redundancies has been largely attributed to the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at the end of October.

This has been in spite of the national lockdown which has forced all non-essential businesses to close until restrictions are lifted.

As such, many organisations have called for an extension of the furlough scheme in order to further protect jobs. The Institute of Employer Studies (IES) encouraged flexible furlough to be extended until autumn whilst the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) told the Chancellor to announce an extension to the furlough scheme prior to Budget being announced.

Frances O’ Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, also expressed the need to extend furlough in order to protect jobs:

The more people we keep in work, the faster we can recover. But with the job retention scheme set to end in April, millions of people’s jobs hang in the balance.

It’s time to end the uncertainty and anxiety. The Chancellor must urgently extend full furlough support to the end of the year to keep jobs safe.

And he must cancel the pay freeze that is due to hit millions of key workers in April. The last thing our businesses and high streets need is to have consumer spending held down when they are trying to recover.

The Chancellor is set to announce the Budget next month which is expected to outline the future of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.