ii comment on latest ONS unemployment figures

by Myron Jobson from interactive investor |

Our expert shares his thoughts on the latest UK jobs data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today published estimates of employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and other employment-related statistics for the UK:

  • UK unemployment jumped by 50,000 year-on-year to 1.35 million in the three months to March 2020
  • Early estimates for April 2020 indicate the number of paid employees fell by 1.6 per cent compared to March
  • February to April 2020 saw the largest quarterly decrease to the vacancies total since the current time series started in 2001

Myron Jobson, Personal Finance Campaigner at interactive investor, says: “These are stark figures, and published during Mental Health Awareness Week it is important to remember that we need to talk about money. Our Great British Retirement Survey last year showed that more than half of people do not know how much debt their partner has, almost a third (31%) don’t know how much their partner earns. Almost a third (32%) of those in a relationship only talk about money with their partner once a month. Now is the time to start talking. 

“A rise in unemployment comes as little surprise all things considered and without the government furlough scheme, the picture would have been even worse. Early estimates for April do not make for an easy read and it is difficult to shake off the feeling that the worse is yet to come when it comes to UK unemployment. 

“There is support for those who have lost their job during the pandemic. Those affected can still apply for Universal Credit, which has replaced Jobseeker's Allowance for most people. It might take longer than usual to process your application because of coronavirus.

“In addition, the Financial Conduct Authority has recently introduced a raft of temporary measures to help mortgage holders and insurance customers who have seen their incomes hit by the coronavirus crisis - including a three-month payment holiday. The city watchdog has also implemented a temporary payment freeze on loans and credit cards for up to three months, while those in arranged overdraft can also benefit from payment deferrals – again, for up to three months.

“Those worried about being unable to pay utility bills should contact their supplier/s to find out what support is available to them. Emergency measures agreed by the government and energy companies mean that customers in financial hardship will also be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary, while disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.

“Consumers should remember that payment holidays will not constitute free money – you’d need to pay it back.”

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