Sir Tom Hunter has urged the Governor of the Bank of England to hold interest rates, pointing to rising unemployment as a warning sign the UK economy cannot take another increase. 

“Unemployment’s just ticked up in the past quarter from 4% to 4.2%,” said Sir Tom. “I feel things are slowing down. People are telling me: ‘There are so many picking the pockets of consumers just now, with rising mortgages and energy costs and so on. I say: ‘Hold the rates!’ There’s a lag between when you set a rate and its effect on the real economy and we need to hold our nerve here.”

Fellow entrepreneur and Go Radio Business Show host Lord Willie Haughey reiterated the existential threat of unemployment and pointed to a link to stagnation in the housebuilding sector.

“More people are going to be unemployed and the indicator over the past months has been in relation to the slowdown in housebuilding.

“I'm hearing more and more stories about the slowdown. People can’t get mortgages, people are not buying houses. A friend who owns a furniture shop revealed he’s not getting any young people coming in who’ve just bought a house. It’s as if someone has turned off a tap. 

“There are reputable builders closing down sites at the moment, closing their sales huts, stopping contractors. I hope this doesn’t grow but leading up to Christmas we’re going to see unemployment numbers rising.”

Sir Tom agreed the housing market was a proven indicator of what’s happening in terms of jobs, noting every major housebuilder in the UK has slowed down despite there never having been a greater need for new housing.

“Every economy always comes out of difficult times led by the housing market: the construction jobs, apprenticeships, all the stuff we talk about,” said Sir Tom.

“This is something I would implore Rishi Sunak and Humza Yousaf to do: look at how we get housebuilding moving again.”