UK firms report strongest hiring intentions in a year

Hiring plans were strongest in healthcare, finance, education and IT sectors. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - British businesses have the strongest hiring intentions in a year and fewer are planning to make redundancies as the economic outlook has brightened over the past three months, a human resources industry body said on Monday.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said 56 per cent of businesses planned to increase staff numbers in the coming months, up from 53 per cent in late 2020 but below the 66 per cent planning to hire staff a year ago before the pandemic.

The proportion of firms planning redundancies dropped sharply to 20 per cent from 30 per cent in the last quarter.

However the CIPD said unemployment was likely to rise sharply if finance minister Rishi Sunak does not extend jobs support for businesses at his March 3 budget.

"It is far too soon to rule out further significant private sector redundancies later in the year if the government does not extend the furlough scheme to the end of June or if the economy suffers any additional unexpected shocks," said Gerwyn Davies, a senior labour market advisor to the CIPD.

A costly furlough programme that is supporting around one in five private-sector employees during the current lockdown is due to end on April 30.

The British Chambers of Commerce warned last week that one in four of its members planned to make job cuts if the support ended while they were still feeling the impact of the pandemic.

The CIPD said hiring plans were strongest in healthcare, finance, education and IT, and weakest in the hospitality sector which is bearing the brunt of the current lockdown.

The survey, run jointly with recruiters Adecco, covered 2,000 employers between Jan 5 and Jan 30.

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