Yesterday the Prime Minister presented a roadmap out of lockdown and towards post-pandemic recovery, and the prospect of being able to see friends and family is getting closer. Good news for many. Yesterday Boris also promised to put his arm around business, also good. In the less good pile is that Boris could not give a straight answer about those who have received no financial support, all the forgotten’s who are completely left behind. Simply stating the usual rhetoric about those lucky enough to have support does not answer the question!
Still in the less good pile – it’s obvious that we will need to pay for all the COVID19 financial support. Rumours of increasing corporation tax seem credible, but surely the rumours of increasing tax/NICs for self-employed people are not? We can’t understand how the Chancellor could possibly justify forcing the very people who have received no financial support to pay for everyone else’s. Next week’s budget is set to be historic, we just hope that whatever policies are announced don’t decimate the very workforce that is so vital to our economic recovery.
Today’s ONS labour market figures show self-employment n the UK has decreased by 652k in Q4 of 2020 compared to one year earlier. That’s a massive drop of -13%. Perhaps not surprising but a worryingly high figure nonetheless. All these people without income as the economy stalls due to the pandemic.
There is some good news. The UK unemployment rate, in the three months to December 2020, was estimated at 5.1%. This is good because it is not as high as previous recessions, although time will tell as to how much of the real picture is masked by the job retention scheme.
More good news – there were an estimated 599,000 job vacancies in the UK in November 2020 to January 2021 which is 64,000 more than the previous quarter. This aligns with other analysts reports of rising business confidence and firms’ increasing hiring intentions. So let’s hope we really are finally on the road to recovery.