Unemployment rose to 5% in the three months to the end of November, with job losses heavily concentrated in retail and hospitality.

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Photograph: Unsplash

Young workers were disproportionately affected, too, the figures from the Office for National Statistics noted.

UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “This is a reminder, not that it is needed, that we have been hit hardest by this. Unless we want to see unemployment in our sector rise even further, we need more support to keep businesses alive and these jobs secure.

“The VAT cut and business rates holiday must be extended to give employers some breathing room to keep jobs safe.

“It is vital that we have a clear exit strategy and a route map to recovery as soon as possible. Hospitality can be the key to jobs and skills for young people, and we can plug the gaps left by retail and help revitalise the economy. We can only do this with the right support to see us through the crisis, though.”

Emma McClarking, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “Rising unemployment and redundancies hitting a record high are extremely concerning. As one of the most devastated sectors by covid-19, we fear it could get a lot worse unless action is taken.  

“The chancellor must act to get us over this final hurdle in the fight against the virus. A clear roadmap to re-opening is needed to save jobs, along with an economic stimulus package so sectors like ours can bounce back and lead the recovery.”

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