Commenting on the labour market figures, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:  

“While these figures are broadly welcome, they hide some worrying trends: Full-time employment continues to fall; the number of people working part-time is at a record high; there was a large increase in those claiming benefits; and inactivity has risen further.   

 “The gap between public and private sector wages is unacceptably large, reinforcing the need for a freeze in the overall public sector wage bill, which will be a key measure in reducing Britain’s unsustainable budget deficit. 

“The economy is still very weak, and there is clearly no justification for an immediate tightening in monetary policy. The forthcoming Budget provides the Government with a perfect opportunity to introduce measures that will support businesses’ ability to increase employment – with particular emphasis on full-time jobs. It should start by scrapping the hike in employer National Insurance Contributions, planned for next year, and substitute it for a 1% rise in VAT.”