Joanne Frew, Global Deputy Head of Employment & Pensions at global legal business, DWF, comments on the latest ONS UK labour market figures. 

Joanne said:

"The latest ONS figures continue to offer encouragement as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme draws to a close and the UK returns to some normality. The headline figures show continued recovery in the labour market between May and July 2021, with the UK employment rate estimated at 75.2%, 0.5% higher than the previous quarter. Further, the UK unemployment rate was estimated at 4.6%, a reassuring 0.3% lower than the previous quarter. The redundancy rate decreased on the quarter and returned to pre-pandemic levels. The figures represent a period where restrictions were gradually lifted following a staggered plan.

"We are still awaiting the impact of the withdrawal of government support on the labour market; however, recent figures show that at the end of July 2021 only 1.6 million people were on furlough, the lowest level since the start of the scheme. With reports of such low numbers utilising the support, the hope is that the wind up of the scheme at the end of September will not lead to the cliff edge many have feared. The latest ONS figures show job vacancies at a new record high, providing every reason to remain optimistic. However, some sectors are understandably faring worse, particularly the travel industry - with 7 in 10 firms planning redundancies when furlough ends.

"With the Prime Minister due to set out his winter plan later today, we will watch with hopeful anticipation that the labour market will continue to be given the opportunity to recover, following the most challenging of times."