THE Office for National Statistics (ONS) said this week that the number of people in work decreased by 220,000 between April and June.

This was the largest quarterly decrease since the height of the financial crisis. The groups most affected are younger workers and those in less skilled jobs.

This number would have undoubtedly been higher if not for the Job Retention Scheme which has seen close to 9 million jobs saved. However many worry that post October when the scheme closes, we will see a further cliff edge. Some experts are reporting that unemployment could rise to around 7% next year due to businesses facing increased costs, reduced demand and diminished cash reserves.

The Chamber’s recently released Quarter Economic Report for Quarter 2 of 2020, in partnership with the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, supports the ONS’s statement and revealed that within the next 3 months 31 per cent of businesses in Herefordshire & Worcestershire expected to reduce their work force.

This is the largest percentage since quarter 4 of 2008 when 38 per cent of businesses expected a decrease.

A significant spike in job loses would mean a major setback to recovery operations, reducing consumer spending and a negative impact on the capacity of the UK economy.

It is imperative that government work closely with businesses to help them retain staff and provide a reduction in employment costs or face a rising number of redundancies. One way businesses could be supported is through a reduction in Employment Allowance and a cut in National Insurance Contributions to provide the breathing room for UK businesses in order to prevent unemployment levels unseen since the 1980s.

For a more detailed insight into the local business economy and the impact of the coronavirus, please do read the full report at

For further information on the help and support available to your business I would urge all businesses to visit our Coronavirus Business Support Hub at