Days after the CBI predicted that Britains economy will avoid a double dip recession and start growing in the first half of 2012, research from The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has revealed that private sector companies plan to make redundancies in the first quarter of the year. A survey of 1,000 employers by YouGov for the CIPD's Winter 2011/2012 Labour Market Outlook survey, found that a third of businesses had moved from a wait and see to pushing the redundancy button;resuting in the fastest rate of job loss since 2009. The survey results suggested that the gap between job prospects in the North and South is also widening, with London and the South East the only regions with small but positive signs of growth. The survey also found that worsening employment prospects were a result of a sharp fall in business confidence, and employers stating that the main barriers to creating new job roles were a lack of finance (54%) and skills shortages (21%). The latest available data from the Office for National Statistics showed 2.68m people were unemployed in the three months to November 2011, further indication that the CIPD's prediction of UK unemployment hitting 2.85m by the end of the year could be correct. "With redundancies looking set to be a feature in growing numbers of firms in the months to come, business leaders need to focus attention on communicating and consulting with staff to build trust and employee engagement in these uncertain times," said Gerwyn Davies, public policy advisor at the CIPD. "Employees are likely to respond more positively to change, and even to the threat of redundancies, if they feel that they have a voice in the workplace and that senior leaders listen to their views before taking decisions." Echoing the CIPD's unemployment figure prediction, John Cridland, CBI Director General said: "Economic conditions will continue to be tough, especially in the first half of the year, and the UK recovery will depend on the successful resolution of the Eurozone crisis." "The pressure on household incomes will also ease slightly in the second half of this year as inflation falls, but weak wage growth and high levels of unemployment will continue toput a brake on household spending, as fears over job security will cause consumers to stay cautious" he added. Unemployment figures for January will be announced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Wednesday.