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UK News

730,000 jobs lost since lockdown, here's how the Church can respond

by Tola Mbakwe

Around 730,000 UK workers have been removed from the payroll of British companies since March when the lockdown began, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

The ONS said that employment rates have continued to decline in the last month as another 81,000 jobs fell off payrolls across the country, pushing the number of employed people to just under 28.3 million.

Paul Morrison from the Joint Public Issues Team, which helps churches speak out effectively on injustice, told Premier Christian News he expects the problem to continue. 

"I think we were expecting it. I think that actually the total number of job losses is going to keep increasing until at least November when the furlough scheme comes to an end," he said. 

"So this scale of job loss was always going to be likely, although for each family concerned, that isn't very much comfort."

The worst of the job losses came in the beginning of the lockdown months. Many people were let go as large parts of the economy grounded to a halt in late March when Prime Minister Boris Johnson told everyone to only leave their homes to exercise or get food.

Between March and June, UK workers dropped by 649,000, according to ONS data released last month. Most of that was from the early days of lockdown.

Experts are worried that the full extent of Britain's job problem has been hidden by the Government's furlough scheme, which promised to cover 80% of the salaries of staff who could not work because of lockdown.

Morrison said that churches and Christian organisations showed remarkable support during lockdown and they will be even more vital in the coming months. 

"Coming up at the end of the end of the summer, things like council tax will start getting collected again, people might be being chased for rent arrears and probably evictions. 

"So it's people like Christians Against Poverty and other independent debt centres which are in churches across the country, they're going to become increasingly important because lots of families are building up debt."

After Christian groups put in so much effort to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Morrison said fatigue can start to settle in but he knows they will pull through.

"I'm utterly surprised we've been capable of delivering in the way that we have so far. Trussell Trust is an organisation I work with quite closely and they are just extraordinary and amazing people. 

"I've been in utter admiration of the work I've seen going on there day in and day out. They are exhausted, but I think they will continue and I hope that Christians Against Poverty will get the support needed as more people come to them.

"One of the things that churches can do is really think about who is likely to need support, what organisations are going to feel the pressure.

"Food banks are going to continue to feel the pressure as unemployment increases, but I think that debt centres is the next big place where we'll feel more."

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