Small business organisation the British Chamber of Commerce has increased its predicted unemployment figures - it expects 3.2m people in the UK to be looking for work in the second half of next year - or just over ten per cent of the workforce.
The BCC said the situation for small business had grown significantly worse than when it last looked at the figures in January. It asked Chancellor Alistair Darling to use next month's Budget statement to scrap planned increases in National Insurance Contributions, freeze the national minimum wage and cut regulations for businesses.
It expects manufacturing output to fall nine per cent this year and capital investment to fall almost ten per cent. It warned that government borrowing of £143bn in 2009/2010 increasing to £158bn in 2010/2011 or 10.7 per cent of GDP was a "serious budgetary position" which must be addressed as soon as possible.
David Kern, chief economist at the BCC, said: “Producing a credible plan to reduce Government debt and borrowing over the medium-term is a key condition to maintaining the UK’s international credit rating and the confidence of the markets.”
US government figures released on Friday showed 651,000 jobs were lost in the US in January pushing unemployment up to 8.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, agency lobby group the Association of Professional Staffing Companies claimed thousands of IT workers have been thrown out of their jobs because "the influx of foreign IT staff into the UK". APSCO found there were 35,430 work permits issued in 2008, down from 38,450 in 2007.
Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCO, said: “It seems crazy that with the economy in a severe downturn and thousands of IT workers having already lost their jobs we are still bringing three times as many foreign IT workers to the UK than during the dot com boom when we had a chronic skills shortage.”
She said 80 per cent of non-EU IT staff coming to the UK were doing so on intra-company transfers. Swain called for a requirement for firms to advertise such internal jobs to UK candidates before offering them to foreign staff.
Swain predicted more entry level jobs would be offshored in 2009. ®
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