Unemployment across the UK is continuing to rise as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS reported the unemployment rate increased to 4.8% from July to September 2020, up from 4.5%.

In the three months to September 2020, redundancies reached a “record high” of 314,000; an increase of 181,000 in the period.

Businesses made more workers redundant in anticipation of the end of the furlough scheme, which was due to close on 31 October but has now been extended until the end of March 2021.

The ONS said an estimated 1.62 million people were unemployed between July and September 2020, around 318,000 more than a year earlier and 243,000 more than the previous quarter.

There were also an estimated 525,000 vacancies in the UK in August to October 2020, 278,000 fewer than the same period last year and 146,000 more than the previous quarter.

Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said:

“The pandemic continues to bring turbulence to the UK labour market.

“In the Autumn, employers faced difficult decisions around retaining staff as government support looked set to decline. The initial shape of the jobs support scheme, originally expected to come into force this month, didn’t provide a smooth off-ramp from furlough.

“The extension of the furlough scheme through to March is welcome as it has given directors certainty to plan ahead for their staff. Unfortunately, the change appears to have come too late in the day for some.”

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