She said: "The latest ONS figures show the number of payroll employees has fallen by 693,000 since February 2020. The under 25s contributed to over 60% of the fall, showing that younger people in the labour market have been severely and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Government support has been targeted at this age group in the form of the Kickstart scheme, training and increased funding for apprenticeships. The UK unemployment rate, in the three months to January 2021 was estimated at 5%, 1.1% higher than a year earlier. Despite the stark headline figures, there are some slow but steady signs of improvement. The redundancy rate in the three months to January 2021 was estimated at 11 people per thousand employees, a slight improvement on the previous quarter, which recorded 12.3 people per thousand employees.
"With half of all adults in the UK now vaccinated and a clear roadmap to the lifting of restrictions, we can expect the labour market figures to steady and continue to improve in the short to medium term. Further, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended to the end of September 2021. This extension should help protect jobs over the coming months as restrictions are lifted and the economy can begin to re-open. The extension of the CJRS to September 2021 allows a degree of flex, (1) for the opening up to be delayed if the data on COVID cases requires this and (2) giving businesses breathing space to get up and running before furlough support comes to an end. However, when the CJRS closes in September there are likely to be further job losses as employers adapt to the "next normal" and re-evaluate their labour supply."