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UK jobs axe poised over car and planemakers, survey shows

[LONDON] More than half of UK manufacturers plan to permanently cut jobs in the next six months, with the automotive and aerospace sectors under particular pressure, according to a survey of 170 firms.

Some 53 per cent of employers are planning to make redundancies during that period, the highest proportion since the start of the coronavirus crisis, lobby group Make UK said in a statement Monday, citing a poll carried out through July 14. Almost one-third expect to cut up to 25 per cent of posts, while 8 per cent may eliminate half.

Make UK chief Stephen Phipson said the figures show Britain needs to provide a six-month extension to a state-funded furlough scheme set to expire at the end of October. He said the help should be offered specifically to carmakers and aerospace companies, which the industry group forecasts will suffer most.

"In addition, government should consider measures similar to those introduced by competitors to boost demand in the aerospace and automotive industries," Mr Phipson said. He cited French state aid worth 15 billion euros (S$23.92 billion) to aerospace firms and 8 billion euros to automakers.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak earlier this month announced a 30 billion-pound package which he said was designed to bolster employment, while ruling out an extension to the furlough program on the grounds that he didn't want to give people false hope that their jobs would survive.

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"The longer people are on furlough, the more likely it is that their skills will fade, and they will find it harder to get new opportunities," Mr Sunak said July 8. "It is in no one's long-term interests for the scheme to continue forever."

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