Friday, January 22, 2021

The Sick Economy

  The Covid-19 pandemic in Britain’s industrial heartlands and left the jobless rate higher than after the financial meltdown of the late 2000s, a report has found. In the first comprehensive study of its kind, researchers from Sheffield Hallam university have revealed the scale of the setback from twin health and economic emergencies on parts of the UK that went into the crisis lagging behind in terms of prosperity and wellbeing. The report by Christina Beatty and Steve Fothergill warned large parts of the Midlands, the north, Wales and Scotland would continue to struggle when the economy eventually recovers from the pandemic. About one-third of the UK’s population lives in the industrial towns, regional cities and former coalfields covered by the study. It found:

  • 1. In the nine months between the start of the crisis in February last year and November 2020, unemployment rose by 310,000 in older industrial towns, 100,000 in the former coalfields and 140,000 in the main regional cities.

  • 2. Over the same period claimant unemployment among 16-24-year-olds in older industrial Britain roughly doubled.

  • 3. If one-third of the workers on furlough at the end of October were to lose their jobs, redundancies would increase by 230,000 in the older industrial towns, by 80,000 in the former coalfields and by 80,000 in the main regional cities.

  • 4. By late 2020, the economic downturn had pushed the numbers on all out-of-work benefits across older industrial Britain to almost one-in-six of all adults of working age, and in some local authorities – such as parts of Middlesbrough, Knowsley and Blaenau Gwent – as high as 20%.

  • 5. Up to the start of 2021, the rate of confirmed infections in older industrial Britain was on average 10-20% above the UK average, seen by the researchers as evidence of fewer people able to work from home.

  • 6. The cumulative death rate in older industrial towns and the former coalfields was on average 30% above the UK average – a reflection of an older and less healthy population.

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