BCC survey reveals extent of damage to jobs market

Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
16th July 2020

Surveys of every aspect of our economy seem to be two a penny in these very uncertain days for business.

We probably don’t take many of them very seriously.

But when the survey is carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce, which Business West is a constituent part of, you do really have to sit up and take notice.

That’s because their latest landmark survey out today had 7,400 responses and is the largest of its kind in the UK.

And it has been done in association with Totaljobs, one of the largest e-recruitment businesses.

The results are scary to say the least:

• 29% of the businesses surveyed expected to reduce the size of their workforce in the next three months

• 28% had decreased the size of their workforce in quarter 2, but 66% had kept their workforce constant reinforcing the success of the Job Retention Scheme

Over the next three months, the survey found 18% of micro firms with fewer than ten employees expected their workforce to decrease.

And likewise, 41% of SMEs surveyed - with 10-249 employees - expected also expected to lose staff. Large firms with over 250 employees also expected to lose people.

British Chambers of Commerce and Totaljobs are calling on the government to reduce the cost of employment to companies with a temporary cut in employer National Insurance contributions plus support to upskill and retain people.

From where I sit in Gloucestershire, I think this survey - although scary - is slightly better than the local picture here.

In Gloucestershire, we have 76,500 people on the furlough scheme with a worrying prediction by those in the recruitment field that up to 40% of those employees could lose their jobs as the scheme closes down by the end of October.

How do those furlough numbers break down into work sectors?

I cannot get the answer to that, but I am afraid that many people in hospitality will become jobless.

And, of course, perhaps the biggest losers in this Covid-19 employment world will be our young people - school, college and university leavers.

And added to that jobless group will be good, young people who have been working in hospitality - hotels, restaurants and pubs - who are work ready.

I believe that Rishi Sunak, our very innovative Chancellor, will have to dish up some more company support in his September Budget if surveys like this today are not going to get a lot scarier and a lot more realistic.

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