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Britain’s unemployment rate rose by more than expected to 4.5% in the three months to August, its highest in more than three years, even before the end of the government’s broad coronavirus job protection plan.

Economists polled had expected the jobless rate to rise more slowly, to 4.3% from 4.1% in the three months to July.

The number of people in employment fell by 153,000, much higher than a median forecast for a fall of 30,000 in the poll, and the Office for National Statistics revised up sharply its estimate for employment losses in previous months.

The ONS data showed redundancies jumped by a record 114,000 on the quarter to 227,000, their highest level since 2009 when Britain was in the grip of the global financial crisis.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak reiterated that his priority remained to slow the rising job losses although he is replacing his 50-billion-pound wage subsidy scheme which expires at the end of this month with a less generous programme.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a new system of restrictions for England and a minister said government may have to go further.

The Confederation of British Industry said ramping up the government’s testing regime will be a key component to securing an economic recovery.

The Bank of England has forecast that the unemployment rate will hit 7.5% by the end of the year. But BoE Governor Andrew Bailey on Monday repeated his warning that the economy could prove weaker than the central bank’s forecasts.

Britain’s economy grew in August at its slowest pace since May as its bounce-back from the lockdown slowed.

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