Big firms cut nearly 4,500 jobs in just two days as furlough tapers off

Nearly 4,500 jobs have been lost at major British employers in only the first two working days in August, as businesses continue to feel the fallout from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dixons Carphone, Pizza Express, Hays Travel and DW Sports have all announced major redundancies, or plans that could put hundreds of jobs at risk.

It comes as many businesses have to decide whether to keep staff who have been on furlough on their books as the Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme starts to unwind.

More than 26,000 jobs were lost at British employers in July, according to analysis by the PA news agency.

It was a small decrease from June when almost 30,000 jobs were lost at British employers when stripping out the effects of BP and HSBC, whose combined 45,000 jobs losses announced in July will be spread around the world.

In May, around 36,000 job losses were announced.

The list of job losses only counts the biggest job cuts that have been announced to the public, so shows only a small part of the devastation to the UK economy.

Carphone Warehouse jobs axe
Carphone Warehouse jobs axe

Thousands more positions have likely been lost at smaller firms.

According to figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last month, the number of workers on company payrolls in the UK fell by 649,000 between March and June.

Companies have been struggling to stay in business through the coronavirus crisis, and many have closed their doors for good as they fall into administration.

Others have managed to hang on, but have closed shops, laid off staff and often tried to renegotiate rents with their landlords.

According to statistics published on Tuesday, the Government has supported the payrolls of around 9.6 million workers in the UK.

Around 1.2 million employers have tapped into the furlough scheme, which has cost £33.8 billion to date.

However, as furlough unwinds from the beginning of this month, and comes to an end in October, experts are worried that the furlough scheme could be masking a big drop in employment that is yet to come.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised that companies who bring back staff from furlough will get £1,000 per head from the Treasury if they keep the employee on their books until the end of January at the latest.

Regardless, unemployment is bound to spike, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecasting that up to 14.8% of the workforce could be unemployed if a second wave of Covid-19 hits Britain.