Welsh businesses warn of redundancies as Wales’ unemployment rate hits 4.4%

The last three months of 2020 saw the second largest annual rise in people out of work in Wales in almost 10 years – and businesses warn more redundancies are on the way without government support.

The stark facts come from the latest data issued by the Office of National Statistics, covering the period from October to December 2020.

It is not all bleak. The data also shows that the number of people out of work is lower than the previous three months.

Wales’ unemployment rate of 4.4% is lower than the rest of the UK, which sits at 5.1%. Wales is also the only country in the UK to have seen a rise in wages, although this likely due to the drop in low wage jobs.

Despite these small silver linings, the figures show 26,000 more people out of work in Wales than in the same period in 2019, with young people seeing the highest rates of unemployment.

Businesses in Wales say this trend is likely to continue if the Welsh and UK governments don’t extend the support currently available. Speaking to CJSNews Amy Bainton a spokesperson from the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales called on the government to act now to prevent further redundancies.

“We have to keep firms viable so that they can sustain jobs and so that in the future they can create new jobs because we have got to remember that as much as we are in a crisis now this is going to effect us for years to come.”

To achieve this Amy says the government must extend the support currently available to businesses across Wales.

“We’ve called for the Welsh Government to extend that 100% business rates relief for another 12 months.

“The furlough scheme remains really important in order to say for example ‘ok so I’m in social distancing I can only have maybe half of the tables in my restaurant that I would have done prior to Covid therefore I can’t really afford to bring back more than half of my staff so I will keep half furloughed.'”

Most importantly Amy says businesses need more clarity from the Welsh Government on what the exit from lockdown will look like.

“Business owners are thinking how can I continue to help support these people’s livelihoods if I don’t know what the immediate future is going to hold for me.”

In a statement responding to todays unemployment figures Ken Skates, the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said: “It is also important that we are planning for how we drive and grow our economy post pandemic.

“I have launched our Economic Resilience and Reconstruction Mission which sets out how we will work to rebuild Wales’ economy post-Covid so that it is more prosperous, equal and green than ever before.”