Recently released figures from the Office for National Statistics showing a rise in employment have been welcomed by the REC’s chief executive Kevin Green, who praised the outstanding performance of the UK’s jobs market.

Mr Green cautioned against extrapolating too wildly from bad news about a few high street giants such as HMV, Comet and Jessops. He said that some industries are merely shifting priorities, which may result in job losses in some areas but job creation in others. The UK jobs market, he said, was showing an overall trend toward job creation and was outperforming much of Europe.

He added: “A good example is the finance sector, which has suffered pretty heavy job losses recently, but banks are still advertising for new recruits in areas like compliance, regulation and risk assessment.”

Meanwhile, however, the Social Market Foundation think-tank condemned the Government for placing far too much faith in deficit reduction to boost growth and for pursuing inadequate tactics such as cutting corporation tax and freezing fuel duty with any money it manages to find. In conjunction with cuts in capital spending, the general strategy has been an obvious failure, the think tank opines.

The think-tank continued: “The Government should be taking the opportunity presented by deficit reduction to recycle savings made by axing low-growth measures, like the winter fuel allowance for better-off pensioners and the still huge pensions tax relief giveaway, and plough them into growth boosting infrastructure investment. Using taxes to fund investment should also be considered.”

The report urges the chancellor to stimulate demand by front-loading the tax rises and cuts required for 2018 and ploughing the money instead into essential infrastructure projects.

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