Redundancies reached a record high last month and the number of job vacancies plummeted as companies across the country prepared for the end of the furlough scheme.

New data from the Office for National Statistics found that since the start of the pandemic the number of payroll employees had fallen by 782,000, and in the three months to September 2020 redundancies were at 314,000, an increase of a record 181,000 on the quarter.

With furlough initially set to come to an end this month, October saw 33,000 fewer people in payrolled employment compared to September, and 782,000 fewer people compared to March.

There were an estimated 525,000 vacancies in the UK in August to October 2020, down 278,000 year-on-year but 146,000 more than the previous quarter.

Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics said that September’s rise in unemployment rate (from 4.5% in August to 4.8% in September) “suggests that the previous scaling back of the furlough scheme took its toll.”

“And with the second lockdown set to send the recovery into reverse, the unemployment rate may yet climb to about 9 per cent next year,” she said.

She added that employment would likely fall back in line with GDP when the reintroduced furlough scheme ends in April, meaning a 6% fall in employment, or two million job losses.

Commenting on the data, UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said the figures serve to reinforce the urgent need for targeted industry support post-lockdown.

Whilst she welcomed the furlough extension, she added that scrapping the Job Retention Bonus is a “major blow” to operators, and highlighted that many employers will still have to pick up the cost of National Insurance Contributions with no revenue coming in.

“Our sector has seen the highest fall in jobs of any,” she said. “We are entering another period that is likely to be incredibly difficult for us. Businesses are in lockdown once again and when they do reopen, it will be back into a severely restrictive environment.

“Government support should recognise that hospitality is being asked to operate under the toughest restrictions of any sector and being given the highest mountain to climb in order to survive. We need a new approach from 3rd December.”