HUGE waves of redundancies could be on the horizon despite government interventions to protect jobs during the pandemic, researchers have warned.

According to the latest Office for National Statistics figures, published today, the unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.1 per cent in Wales between May and July.

There are currently around 46,000 people who are unemployed in Wales.

This marks a slight rise on previous months this year and returns to the same unemployment rate found in Wales between February and April.

Unemployment figures were higher for much of 2019, hitting 4.5 per cent in Wales between February and April last year.

But the current figures are buoyed by government intervention schemes to cushion the effects of Covid-19 on the UK job market.

The UK-wide Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme have sought to avoid mass lay-offs by encouraging bosses to instead furlough workers, with the government covering the vast majority of their wages.

Those schemes are due to come to an end this autumn, and UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said today “protecting jobs and helping people back into work continues to be [his] number one priority”.


In Wales, economy minister Ken Skates said the nation’s Economic Resilience Fund had protected the jobs of 100,000 workers since the beginning of the pandemic.

But government schemes have not persuaded all firms to retain their workers, and firms in Gwent are among those in the UK to be hit by lay-offs since the lockdown began in March.

Earlier this week a study by the Employment Studies (IES) found it was likely the UK would be hit by around 450,000 redundancies in the coming months.

IES director Tony Wilson said: “This data lays bare the scale of the jobs crisis that we’re facing in the autumn, with half a million people likely to lose their jobs in the coming months.

“The sad reality is that this restructuring cannot be averted entirely, but we can do a lot more to minimise the job losses and support those who are most at risk.

“Our top priority must be to support those facing the prospect of losing their jobs to find new, secure and good quality work as quickly as possible.

“We also mustn’t accept that all of these redundancies are inevitable.

“Although most of those who were furloughed by their employers are now back at work, there are still many parts of the economy where perfectly viable businesses cannot bring people back because of the ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic.

“So we need tightly targeted support to help these firms ride out the next few months, where they can commit to not laying staff off.”