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Bluestone Mortgages: ONS unemployment figures reflect govt support schemes

Jake Carter

March 23, 2021

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Steve Seal, managing director at Bluestone Mortgages believes the ONS monthly unemployment figures reflect the government support schemes which are in place.

Seal outlined that the closure of such schemes is bound to have a dramatic effect on the labour market, leading to many more redundancies and job losses over the coming months.

There were 693,000 fewer people in employment in February 2021 compared to the previous year.

Despite this, on a monthly basis, there was a rise in the number of people in payrolled employment in February 2021, having risen by 68,000, making the third consecutive monthly increase.

The UK employment rate, in the three months to January 2021, was estimated at 75.0%, 1.5 percentage points lower than a year earlier and 0.3 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.

Looking to the UK unemployment rate, in the three months to January 2021, this was noted at 5.0%, 1.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.1 percentage points higher than the previous quarter.

Seal explained that many are likely to find themselves struggling to be eligible for mainstream lending, once the support schemes are removed and unemployment rates rise.

ONS data also reveals the UK economic inactivity rate was at 21.0%, 0.6 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.3 percentage points higher than the previous quarter.

The redundancy rate, in the three months to January 2021, was estimated at 11.0 people per thousand employees.

There were an 601,000 vacancies in the UK between December 2020 and February 2021.

This is 220,000 fewer than a year ago, and the rate of increase in vacancies has slowed strongly in recent months, outlined ONS.

Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) among employees for the three months November 2020 to January 2021 increased to 4.8%.

As well as this, growth in regular pay – excluding bonuses – increased to 4.2%.

It is estimated that by removing the compositional effect, the underlying wage growth is around 3% for total pay and around 2.5% for regular pay, according to the report.

Seal said: “Despite today’s figures, there is no doubt that government support schemes are helping to keep many jobs intact.

“The impact of these changes will go far beyond an individual’s day-to-day finances and will also affect their long-term financial prospects.

“As a result, some may find that they are not eligible for mainstream lending.

“For many borrowers in this position, seeking professional advice could mean the difference between securing the lending they need and not knowing where to turn.

“It is therefore in advisers’ best interests to equip themselves with the resources and tools they need to support customers who have been impacted financially by the pandemic.

“Being able to meet the needs of borrowers with complex financial histories will ensure that brokers are prepared for a post-coronavirus future where borrowers are increasingly looking for more tailored lending.”


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