Six million workers fear they’ll lose their jobs within six months

Over half the workforce are three months or less away from defaulting on their rent or mortgage

Rishi Sunak

One in five current workers in the UK fear they will lose their jobs in the next six months amid the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic.

The poll, by the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS), also found that 60 per cent of workers are three months or less away from defaulting on their rent or mortgage payments.

These new findings suggest the government’s furlough initiative has not prevented many people from feeling worried for their financial futures.

CLASS said these results show the government’s furlough scheme does not go far enough.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak must bring a new job creation scheme as well as significant fiscal stimulus to refocus the economy and support the UK in coming out of a recession.

Dr Faiza Shaheen, director of CLASS, said: “It is shocking that over half of all workers fear they are so close to being without a roof over their heads.

“Millions of people – including those now on Universal Credit and those not qualifying for the furlough scheme – will be increasingly desperate as their mortgage and rent holidays end.”

The survey, which sampled 2,000 people, also found that the majority, 73 per cent, of workers believe the recession will last longer than a year and 77 per cent think it will be even worse that the 2008 crash.

Delving deeper, 26 per cent of workers are only a month away from defaulting on their rent or mortgage as the three month mortgage holidays draw to a close.

The survey found that 19 per cent of workers, plus 25 percent of the self employed and those aged 18-24, reported feeling ‘somewhat or very unconfident’ that they would still be in their current jobs in six months. This amounts to nearly six million people.

“It is shocking that over half of all workers fear they are so close to being without a roof over their heads”

While continuing to worry about their own financial situations, many respondents also called for key workers, including carers, cashiers and delivery drivers, a pay rise. Nearly 70 percent supported a move to tax the wealthy more.

Dr Shaheen added: “Protecting workers now requires us looking past emergency measures to a recovery plan. Coronavirus has put society in an X-ray machine to reveal its structural weakness and is now magnifying existing inequalities. 

“It is up to the Chancellor to seize this opportunity, to build a bridge from the furlough scheme and unemployment benefits to green jobs and a fairer society.”

The shift in focus suggestions people do not want to return exactly to the way life was before the pandemic, instead preferring the idea of a ‘new normal’, in which a deal is gained that focuses on workers’ rights.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, writing in the foreword of the report in which these findings were published said: “Although the problems these workers face have existed for many years, the covid-19 crisis has laid them bare for all to see. And it has intensified the injustice.

“The report is all the more powerful for being more than just a review of the statistics. The CLASS workers’ confidence survey brings the voices of working people to the fore.

“They tell of how stressful life is on low wages and with insecure work. And life has become harder still in the covid-19 crisis – especially for those on the frontline.”

You can read the full report Coronavirus and the Workers Emergency: Labour Market Realities 2020 here.

See also: The coronavirus recovery must be bottom-up, not top-down

Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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