Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that the number of workers on UK payrolls fell by more than 600,000 between March and May this year.
Meanwhile, the number of people claiming work-related benefits – which includes people who are unemployed – was up 126 per cent to 2.8 million.
The ONS says that the full effect on employment will not be felt until wage support schemes end in October. Separate HMRC figures reveal that 9.1 million workers are having their wages paid through the Government’s furlough scheme.
The plunge in employment figures and surge in furloughed workers because of coronavirus is very worrying for local economies. Taken together, these figures illustrate the importance of councils being empowered to develop post-COVID economic recovery options that ensure every region of the country can benefit from emerging employment opportunities.
At the LGA, we believe the pandemic provides a real opportunity to devolve skills investment and back-to-work support to local areas so councils can work with businesses and education providers to ensure people are trained and retrained with relevant skills, enabling our diverse communities to have the best possible chance of contributing to and benefiting from any economic reboot.
Our own Work Local programme (www.local.gov.uk/work-local) shows how employment and skills services in England can be improved through local public-private collaborations.
These are points we continue to make in meetings with ministers, including Business Secretary Alok Sharma.
Our recent report shows that more than a million green jobs could be created in England by 2050 as the nation transitions to a net-zero economy, which would help to counter the unprecedented job losses arising from coronavirus.
Empowering councils, with their unrivalled local knowledge and expertise, will ensure the workforce in every region of the country can benefit from emerging employment opportunities.