COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on people’s lives and the economy. Not every industry has been able to shift to remote working and even those that have, have often experienced great reductions in demand. In the last few months, businesses in the UK have started responding to losses in revenue by announcing extensive job cuts.
The Centre For Towns intends to start releasing a regular bulletin on public announcements made by companies of job losses each week. This analysis will identify trends and differences by sector. The data we have collected is by no means complete or definitive and we will keep updating it as businesses review their redundancy plans.
For the first release, we include data on announcements of job losses for the whole month of June and the first week of July.
As might be expected given the collapse in international travel since the pandemic began, the sector that has announced the most job losses during this period is aviation with 24,772 redundancies. This is followed by the retail and energy sectors with 13,833 and 12,340 job losses respectively.
British Airways alone is holding consultations to fire up to 12,000 staff members. The airline also is planning to considerably reduce its operations at Gatwick airport.
The retail sector has suffered the consequences of the lockdown and the closure of the high streets. Among the worst hit businesses is the health and beauty retailer Boots, which has recently disclosed that 4,000 of its employees will be made redundant and 48 of its optician practices will be closed. Meanwhile John Lewis is likely to cut up to 1,300 jobs and it is closing at least eight of its stores. These will include stores in Birmingham, Watford, Croydon, Newbury, Swindon, Tamworth and the travel sites at Heathrow and London St. Pancras.
In the energy sector, BP is planning to cut around 2,000 UK jobs, while Ovo Energy has estimated that around 2,600 workers will have to go. Ovo has sadly announced it will shut its operations in Glasgow’s Waterloo Street, Selkirk and Reading. Further jobs will then be cut at its Perth, Cumbernauld and Cardiff offices.
Another industry substantially affected by the pandemic is hospitality. The Casual Dining Group (owner of Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas) said that more than 1,900 jobs will be cut across its restaurants. Meanwhile, the SSP Group (owner of Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza) will axe up to 5,000 roles in the UK.
Finally, in the manufacturing sector companies including JCB, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin Lagonda have reported up to 8,203 job cuts. In particular, Rolls Royce will cut 1,500 jobs at its headquarters in Derby, 700 in Inchinnan (near Glasgow), 200 in Barnoldswick (Lancashire) and 175 in Solihull (Warwickshire). Instead, Aston Martin Lagonda has not yet announced where its 500 job cuts will be made. However, the company is based in Warwickshire and has facilities at St Athan (South Wales), at Gaydon and in Newport Pagnell. Workers in all these facilities may be affected by the redundancy plans.
Our research has counted a total of 76,140 job cuts announced since the beginning of June. These redundancies will further hit local economies as spending power is diminished in areas hit by job losses. It is crucial that the UK’s economy is not allowed to enter a downward spiral of decline. Even if these numbers are currently only an approximation of how many people are losing their job, it is clear that the UK’s economy needs significant intervention to turn the economic corner and halt the rising unemployment rate. The coming months will be crucial for our economic future.