More than 139,000 jobs were lost in June, according to shocking figures.
The horrific number of redundancies revealed by the Insolvency Service comes only days before economic figures are expected to show Britain has officially tipped into recession.
The number of firms that cut 20 or more roles during June was up fivefold compared to last year, rising to 1,778.
The number of firms that cut 20 or more roles during June was up fivefold compared to last year, rising to 1,778. Pictured: Stock photo of an upset businessman
Figures on Wednesday are widely expected to show the economy contracted massively during the second quarter following the imposition of the virus lockdown.
That comes after output declined in the first three months of the year. Two successive quarters of contraction officially marks a recession, which would be the first since the financial crisis hit.
The GDP blow comes as companies are being urged to get back to the office to help struggling city centre firms.
There are fears that working from home is causing huge damage to the economy as businesses that rely on busy offices – from sandwich shops and pubs to dry cleaners and hairdressers – are deprived of custom.
Sandwich shop chains Pret a Manger and Upper Crust have already axed thousands of jobs between them, with Pret yesterday asking staff to accept reduced hours.
And employment experts today said the country is set for more pain in the coming months, with even more firms expected to announce layoffs, particularly in the hard-hit sectors of hospitality and tourism.
Gerwyn Davies, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said businesses were now facing the prospect of rising costs as the Government winds down its jobs furlough scheme.
He added: ‘For many firms, the problem is that revenues are simply not coming in. There is undoubtedly going to be a lot of job losses.’
Firms that revealed plans to lay off staff in June included Royal Mail, Jet2, HSBC, Jaguar Land Rover, Centrica and the Restaurant Group, owner of Frankie and Benny’s.
200,000 people forced to retire early
Nearly 200,000 people over 50 have dropped out of the workforce and become economically inactive since the outbreak, a study suggests.
Inactivity levels have increased more in recent months among over-50s than any other age group, said jobs and community site Rest Less.
A separate study from the Centre for Ageing Better and the Learning and Work Institute also found roughly 2.5million over-50s had been furloughed and 377,000 of those face the prospect of losing their job entirely.
Stuart Lewis, of Rest Less, said: ‘In the wake of the toughest job market in decades, there has been a significant rise in the number of workers over 50 who have lost hope in finding a job and feel forced into an early retirement that many simply cannot afford.’
Similar announcements followed from other big names in July, such as Marks & Spencer, Boots and John Lewis.
And research by the CIPD has found one in three UK firms is expecting to cut jobs in the third quarter of 2020, covering July, August and September.
Many cuts are expected to come from hospitality businesses such as hotels, restaurants and cafes, as well as shops that were already on the brink before the pandemic.
High Street businesses have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with lockdown measures dramatically reducing visitor numbers and forcing ‘non-essential’ shops to close for months.
But the jobs bloodbath is expected to intensify when the Government’s furlough scheme winds down in October, meaning employers will have to take on the full costs of staff wages again.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to extend the scheme for specific sectors that have been worst hit but has so far resisted pressure to do so.
As part of plans to set an example and get the country moving again, the Government has told civil servants – four fifths of whom are still working remotely -to get back to work in central London or risk losing their prestigious Westminster offices.
Treasury officials are said to be considering mass sell-off of the Government’s buildings in the capital before this autumn’s spending review.