UK labour market shows signs of life but challenges lie ahead – REC

FILE PHOTO: Workers cross London Bridge during the morning rush hour in London, August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s labour market perked up in September after a torrid few months but the outlook is worrying as the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies again and the government prepares to close its job subsidy scheme, a survey showed on Thursday.

Employers hired permanent staff at the fastest rate in nearly two years and temporary hiring also grew, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and accountants KPMG said.

“While it’s encouraging to see a further recovery in hiring activity …, it’s concerning to see another rapid rise in total candidate availability,” said James Stewart, vice chair at KPMG.

The number of coronavirus cases is rising quickly in Britain, as it is in other countries.

A government support programme that paid up to 80% of the wages of temporarily laid-off employees ends this month and will be replaced by a less generous scheme that will require companies to shoulder much more of the bill.

“With increasing unease over what will happen in the coming months with the pandemic, Brexit and with the end of the furlough scheme in sight, the uncertainty for UK business is not going to dissipate anytime soon,” Stewart said.

Around 700,000 people on payrolls have lost their job since the start of the pandemic, according to tax data, and most economists think worse is to come.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by William Schomberg

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