A call has been made for the Government to cut employers' National Insurance contributions as figures show almost a third of businesses expect to cut jobs in the next three months.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has made the call citing findings from the latest British Chambers’ Quarterly Recruitment Outlook, published today.

The survey of 7,400 businesses shows 29 per cent expect to decrease the size of their workforce imminently while 28 per cent have already cut jobs.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “Many employers are shedding staff, or plan to shed staff, even before the Government’s Job Retention Scheme ends in October.

“These are national figures but, if anything, Cumbria is even more exposed to the coronavirus downturn and we’ve already seen a sharp rise is the unemployment claimant count here.

“We have a large number of tourism and hospitality businesses, which have been hit harder than any other sector.

“Although they were allowed to reopen on July 4, many are finding it tough and it’s the same story on the high street.

“It boils down to consumer confidence. Some people don’t yet feel safe to go out and others are worried about job security and don’t want to spend unless they have to.The jobs market won’t improve until confidence returns.”

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce is joining with the British Chambers of Commerce in calling on the Government to cut employers’ National Insurance contributions to help protect businesses and jobs.

Only 12 per cent of businesses in the UK survey are looking to recruit staff.

Where businesses are recruiting, the survey found that applications per vacancy were up across all sectors.

Rob added: “We were disappointed that the Chancellor didn’t cut employers’ National Insurance contributions in his summer statement last week. It’s the obvious thing to do if you want to incentivise businesses to retain or recruit people.

“We’d also like to see more support for businesses to upskill and reskill employees as they adapt to change.”