It is an unavoidable reality that the coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on the UK economy.

Redundancies are at their highest level in eight years, the rate of unemployment is the highest it has been in three years, and the Government’s Job Retention Scheme is committed to last only until the end of March 2021

At the Evangelical Alliance we want to both face up to the realities of the current state our country is in and seek the wisdom and will of God as we strive to bring hope and practical responses to that picture, glorifying Jesus as we do so. 

What is the current picture? These statistics from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) shed light on the current job crisis. 

Redundancies

  • Redundancies increased in June to August 2020 by 113,000 on the year, and a record 114,000 on the quarter, to 227,000.
  • June to August 2020 figures show the unemployment rate and the number of redundancies continue to increase, while the employment rate continues to fall.

Unemployed

  • Estimates for June to August 2020 show an estimated 1.52 million people were unemployed, 209,000 more than a year earlier and 138,000 more than the previous quarter.
  • Since March 2020, the number of payroll employees has fallen by 673,000.

Vacancies

  • After a record low of 343,000 vacancies in April to June 2020, there has been an estimated record quarterly increase of 144,000 to 488,000 vacancies in July to September 2020; vacancies remain below the pre-coronavirus pandemic levels and are 332,000 (40.5 per cent) less than a year ago.

Universal credit

  • The UK claimant count level has increased by 112.4 per cent since March 2020.

At the Evangelical Alliance, we are currently exploring how Christians in business can be best supported and encouraged by local churches and national organisations to create jobs / respond to the country’s job crisis. In the coming months we are looking to see how churches can respond to the looming economic crisis and likely rise in unemployment, and how we as an organisation might support that. 

This will begin as roundtable discussions with Christian business networks, entrepreneurs and churches, and will materialise as a series of articles and other online resources. 

The church has always responded with compassion and conviction to help those in greatest need and we see that today through many mercy ministries, such as foodbanks, soup kitchens and debt counselling. It Is our hope that we would also see churches become places where business leaders and entrepreneurs are inspired and equipped to see their work of job creation as part of the outworking of their faith. 

This is a deeply uncertain time, but as we seek to trust God through all that is going on, we must remember that we follow a good God who is in control. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him,
and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5 – 6

Clarification on terminology

  • Unemployment: people without a job who have been actively seeking work within the last four weeks and are available to start work within the next two weeks. 
  • Unemployment rate: this is not the proportion of the total population who are unemployed; it is the proportion of the economically active population (those in work plus those seeking and available to work) who are unemployed. 
  • · Vacancies: defined as positions for which employers are actively seeking recruits from outside their business or organisation. The estimates exclude agriculture, forestry and fishing (a small sector for which the collection of estimates would not be practical).
  • Claimant count: the claimant count measures the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits. The claimant count estimates are currently designated as experimental statisticsbecause the Universal Credit estimates are still being developed by the Department for Work and Pensions. Not all people included in the claimant count are unemployed.

This is a deeply uncertain time, but as we seek to trust God through all that is going on, we must remember that we follow a good God who is in control.