Responding to new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showing that there are an estimated 730,000 fewer employees on payrolls compared to March 2020, and the self-employed community reduced in size by a record 238,000 between Q1 and Q2 of this year, FSB Wales Policy Chair, Ben Francis, said:
“The success of the Job Retention Scheme has kept Wales’ employment figures healthy over the past few months but reality is now starting to hit home.
“As our economy unlocks, many thousands of people will be looking for work over the next year. That’s why a focus on job creation – not just retention – is so critical.
“In light of today’s figures, the future of the Job Retention Scheme will need to be reviewed closely. The option of a meaningful extension to the furloughing initiative should be kept open, especially now local lockdowns are a fact of life in England and a meaningful second spike in coronavirus infections is possible.
“That makes a ready-to-go plan on local lockdowns in Wales even more essential, to help protect the firms that have already been pushed to their limits by the long lockdown earlier this year. This plan should include a Rapid Reaction Business Fund which would help firms forced to close once again, and a communications plan to avoid some of the confusion that we’ve seen in England.
“To see our self-employed community shrinking so rapidly is frightening. Sole traders were absolutely integral to our recovery from the last recession, and the UK and Welsh Governments should be doing all they can to help them play that same role again. Many people leaving payrolls will be thinking about striking out on their own, and they should be given the support they need to start-up, innovate and go on to create jobs and growth.“It’s important to remember that these figures don’t capture the experience of all those who are suffering. Thousands of company directors are desperately trying to keep their operations afloat having received no help from UK or Welsh Government for months now. We urgently need to see Ministers in both Westminster and Cardiff Bay spell out how it intends to help those who’ve been left behind.”