Responding to the latest employment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing the redundancy rate at a record high and 224,000 fewer vacancies compared to this time last year, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Employment & Pensions Policy Manager Emelia Quist said:
“These figures are a stark reminder of the jobs challenge we face. With the option to furlough still rightly available, they don’t truly reflect the mountain we have to climb.
“Young people continue to bear the brunt of rising unemployment, but these stats also highlight a worrying spike in the proportion of 25-34 year-olds who are out of work. It was good to see the Government doing more to make the Kickstart initiative as accessible as possible to small firms this week. The Kickstart approach should now be extended to other groups who are struggling in the labour market.
“With redundancies soaring and vacancies falling, urgent action is needed to bring down the upfront costs of employment. Cutting employer’s National Insurance Contributions (NICs) – a charge levied on employers even when their staff are furloughed – would be the best place to start.
“The Government’s levelling-up agenda is more important now than ever. Where concentrations of rising unemployment are concerned, today’s figures present some counterintuitive findings. They serve as a reminder that much-needed local investment initiatives have to be effectively targeted at the grassroots level, in consultation with local stakeholders, to reach communities most in need.
“Sadly, our self-employed community continues to shrink. The newly self-employed, those earning over £50,000 and company directors continue to be left out of the Government’s income support initiatives. Unless we see these gaps addressed, and more done to encourage those out of work to go it alone, our economy will face very real repercussions.
“Sole traders were fundamental to our recovery from the last recession. If we want them to play that same role again, we have to give them the support they desperately need. Hitting them with a NICs increase any time in the near future would seriously stifle efforts to bounce back from a torrid year.
“Action in March will prove too late for many. The Government needs to intervene now.”
As the UK’s largest business support group, FSB is the voice of the UK’s small businesses and the self-employed. Established over 40 years ago to help its members succeed in business, FSB is a non-profit making and non-party political organisation that’s led by its members, for its members. As the UK’s leading business campaigner, FSB is focused on delivering change which supports smaller businesses to grow and succeed.
FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including access to finance, business banking, legal advice and support along with a powerful voice in Government. Each year FSB also runs the UK’s Celebrating Small Business Awards. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk. You can follow us on twitter @fsb_policy and on Instagram @fsb_uk.
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