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Firms say jobs still under pressure

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Jobs continue to be at risk during the economic downturn, with a significant proportion of employers contemplating redundancies over the next six months.

That was the major finding of the British Chambers of Commerce’s latest monthly business survey.

According to the survey, which polled some 450 firms across the UK, just over half of respondents (51 per cent) said that they are considering or are certain to lay off staff in the coming months.

The survey also revealed that demand remains weak. Not a single business reported plans to increase their stock. Some 83 per cent intend to hold stock at current levels, while 17 per cent are looking to reduce the amount of stock during the next quarter.

Optimism over the future prospects of the economy appeared muted. Only 20 per cent anticipated a return to growth by the end of the year. Over half didn’t predict recovery until the first six months of 2010.

Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “With half of firms still thinking about cutting their workforce by the end of the year, the government must continue to promote measures that stimulate growth in investment and jobs.

“It will be business that drives an economic recovery, boosting employment along the way. Policies to help businesses retain jobs, and increase employment, will be critical over the next 12 months. Scrapping plans to raise National Insurance contributions in 2011 is an obvious place to start.”