Top firms cut 250,000 jobs in five months of coronavirus

More than a quarter of a million workers at stalwart British firms have been laid off since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Mail can reveal. 

Gatwick Airport, sandwich chain Pret a Manger and BMW Mini became the latest to swing the jobs axe last week, meaning around 255,000 roles have been cut or marked for the chop since March, according to a Mail audit. 

This number includes overseas workers laid off by British firms. But now more than 153,000 positions have been slashed in the UK alone. 

Sobering sign: The jobs crisis will deepen in the coming weeks as the furlough scheme draws to a close

Sobering sign: The jobs crisis will deepen in the coming weeks as the furlough scheme draws to a close

Sobering sign: The jobs crisis will deepen in the coming weeks as the furlough scheme draws to a close

The crisis will deepen in the coming weeks as the furlough scheme draws to a close. The Bank of England has forecast unemployment to hit 7.5 per cent, affecting around 2.5m people, by the end of the year. 

In a sobering sign of the potential cuts to come, one in eight workers – around 4 million – were still making use of the furlough scheme at the start of this month. As the support begins to taper off, struggling companies are expected to make heavy cuts. 

Conservative MP Jesse Norman, financial secretary to the Treasury, acknowledged the risk this month. He said: ‘It’s sobering to reflect that many more people will almost certainly face redundancy or unemployment in the next few months.’ 

Pret a Manger announced it was cutting 2,800 jobs last week as it closed 30 stores, due to fewer office staff going into work. Gatwick Airport is slashing 600 jobs amid a nightmare for the travel sector. 

BMW has said 400 agency personnel working at its Mini car factory in Oxford are losing their jobs. 

The Mail has highlighted the importance of getting staff back to work safely to support the economy. 

Conservative MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘Most jobs are created at smaller and medium-sized companies. Smaller businesses cannot be up and running unless big companies get staff back to the office. 

‘It’s very selfish of big companies to say, as some have, their staff won’t be going back until January. It will lead to massive job losses.’ 

Tej Parikh, chief economist at lobby group the Institute of Directors, said: ‘The Government must boost the wider jobs market by reducing the burden of employment taxes, helping businesses to retain and hire staff.’

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