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In its latest update, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that an estimated 1.5 million people were unemployed between June and August, while redundancies stood at 227,000…reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

The UK’s unemployment rate has hit the highest level in three years in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday.

The unemployment rate grew to 4.5% in the three months to August, compared with 4.1% in the previous quarter.

In its latest update, the ONS said that an estimated 1.5 million people were unemployed between June and August, while redundancies stood at 227,000.

Jonathan Athow, the ONS’s deputy national statistician for economic statistics, told the BBC there had been a “sharp increase” in those out of work and job hunting since March.

“Overall employment is down about half a million since the pandemic began and there are particular groups who seem to be most affected, young people in particular.

“(Of those out of work) about 300,000 are aged 16-24, so about 60 per cent of the fall in employment… that’s really disproportionate,” he added.

Meanwhile, the number claiming work related benefits hit 2.7 million in September, an increase of 1.5 million since the beginning of the pandemic in March.

Also, a Citibank analysis has suggested that the unemployment rate could hit 8.5 per cent in the first half of 2021, a level not seen since the early 1990s.

Government slammed

Meanwhile, Responding to the statistics released showing that unemployment has reached 4.5%, the highest level in over three years, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“Today’s figures throw into stark and depressing relief the scale of the issues facing families and businesses and act as a reminder that the Chancellor must extend more help.

“Liberal Democrats have warned that by prematurely ending the Furlough scheme, this Government is potentially leaving thousands to face ruin.

“Responsibility sits squarely on the Chancellor’s shoulders. Instead of dismissing lost jobs as not viable, he should be working day and night to protect people’s livelihoods. 

“Generations will judge whether this Government has taken every conceivable step to protect people’s’ livelihoods and futures, or tossed them on the unemployment pile marked non-viable.”

Earlier, The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has reiterated the urgent need for further employment support, as new analysis from the GLA shows that London’s economy may take more than three years to recover from the pandemic.

The Mayor has warned of a ‘looming unemployment crisis’ when the Government’s furlough scheme ends at the end of October. The latest GLA macroeconomic analysis shows that employment levels in London may not recover to pre-crisis levels until as late as 2023, with employment levels in London contracting by 5.5% next year.

Meanwhile according to an extended job support plan announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the UK government will pay two thirds of salaries for employees who worked for firms that were forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the scheme, businesses across the UK whose premises are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work, reports Xinhua news agency.

The government will support eligible businesses by paying two thirds of each employee’s salary, up to a maximum of 2,100 pounds a month, from November 1 and it will be available for six months.

“Throughout the crisis the driving force of our economic policy has not changed,” Sunak said, adding: “I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.”

In addition, the UK government is increasing the cash grants to businesses in England shut in local lockdowns to support with fixed costs.

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