In the UK, a pandemic of job losses caused by coronavirus

Pedestrians are reflected in the window of a closed business as they walk past a shop in Tooting, London May 1, 2009. PHOTO | STEFAN WERMUTH | AFP


What you need to know:

  • A London vacancy for an accounts assistant attracted 262 applications against an expected 10 or 20. The boss called it “staggering.”
  • A fragrance company in Northumberland received an unprecedented 583 applications, many of them from people educated to PhD level, for a job of only 16 hours per week.

The jobs market in Britain, savaged by the coronavirus crisis, is in desperate straits, as the following stories demonstrate:

When a restaurant in Manchester advertised for a receptionist, they expected about 30 people to apply. They got 963 replies.

A fragrance company in Northumberland received an unprecedented 583 applications, many of them from people educated to PhD level, for a job of only 16 hours per week.

A London vacancy for an accounts assistant attracted 262 applications against an expected 10 or 20. The boss called it “staggering.”

Overall, paid employment in Britain has fallen almost 650,000 employees since March, causing those businesses which are offering work to be inundated.

Among the worst affected is the hospitality sector, with many bars, restaurants and hotels struggling. Popular chains such as Pizza Express and Azzuri are restructuring in a way that could lead to more than 2,000 job losses, with hundreds of restaurants closing.

CUTTING 3,000 WORKERS

The Frankie and Benny restaurant chain has announced it is cutting 3,000 workers.

Other sectors are suffering, too. Britain’s biggest building firm, Travis Perkins, plans to cut nine per cent of its work force, that is 2,500 jobs. British Airways is letting 12,000 employees go and BP is cutting 10,000 jobs worldwide.

 A saviour for many has been a scheme under which those furloughed from their jobs, estimated at a quarter of the national work force or some 9.1 million people, have had 80 per cent of their wages paid by the government.

However, this scheme concludes at the end of October and there is little confidence that the economy will be strong enough by then to mop up the many thousands still expected to be jobless.

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Was it boredom, a chafing at restrictions or a feeling that the rules no longer applied? Whatever, police noted record arrests of drug drivers during the lockdown.

In Northumbria alone, between March and June, there was a 48 per cent increase in the numbers arrested for all drug-related driving offences — a total of 304, which was 98 up on the same period in 2019.

Inspector Paul Allen said, “These figures show that people are continuing to get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs and that has been a concern. Any such person should expect to be arrested and brought before the courts.”

Penalties include driving bans, heavy fines and prison sentences.

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Christopher Connolly, aged 29, got mad at his elderly friend, Denise Smith, 66, because she refused to buy him a £50 computer game for Christmas.

So he crushed sleeping pills, anti-depressants and pain-killing tablets and slipped them into Denise’s sweetener powder.

Police found the victim in a drowsy state in her home in Rochester, Kent, after Connolly dialed 999 and said he feared he had killed her.

Connolly, a charity shop worker, admitted attempting to cause grievous bodily harm, and was sent to prison for four years.


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Could not brushing your teeth lead to cancer? A study by researchers in the United States found that people with a history of gum disease were 53 per cent more at risk from gastric cancer than those with healthy gums, while people missing two or more teeth were 33 per cent more likely to get the disease.  The researchers called for further studies to specify specific oral bacteria responsible.

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The leader of the national body which aims to ensure fair play in British society has accused the government of “dragging its feet” over racism and failing to make it a priority.

Mr David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the Commission itself did not have a black member and people were “rightly outraged” by this.

He also said there were not enough senior people of colour in companies around the country, but praised Lloyd’s Bank for announcing that it planned to increase the number of black staff in senior roles.

Mr Isaac, who is leaving the Commission after four years, made his comments in an interview with the BBC. They came after the death in America of a black man, George Flack, triggered anti-racism protests in the UK.

He said, “A coherent ace strategy is a top priority and I call upon the government to act urgently. I do believe the government is dragging its feet.”


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If you’re isolating or under curfew, here are a few things to ponder:

— Suppose a bottle of something toxic has a “use-by” date on the label. When that date expires, are the contents more poisonous or no longer poisonous?

— Which letter is silent in the word “Scent,” the S or the C?

— The word “swims” upside down is still “swims.”

— If you replace “W” with “T” in What, Where and When, you get the answer to each of them.

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