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JRF - Places on the brink: the parts of Britain at risk of surging poverty

New research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) for the first time identifies the parts of Britain which are likely to find it hardest to recover from the economic impact of Coronavirus.

The charity is warning that there is no one-size-fits-all recovery and urges the Government to take targeted action that pulls these places back from the brink of surging levels of poverty.

As the UK Government makes decisions which will define our country for years to come, JRF is calling for Whitehall to work with devolved and local governments to prevent rising unemployment pushing millions into poverty. Ministers must seize this opportunity to do much more to target bold investment in support, skills and retraining at those most at risk of unemployment.

The analysis maps out the British towns and cities which are projected to see the greatest increases in unemployment by the end of this year while at the same time experiencing the weakest flow of new job vacancies.

Places that are likely to find it hardest to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19

Ranking Local Authority Potential Peak Unemployment Rate Current Number Of People Out Of Work Per Vacancy
1 Brent 18% 63
2 Barking and Dagenham 18% 49
3 Newham 18% 39
4 Blackpool 21% 32
5 Haringey 17% 72
6 Sandwell 18% 34
7 South Tyneside 17% 36
8 Pendle 17% 37
9 Thanet 17% 30
10 Ealing 17% 30
11 Wolverhampton 18% 24
12 Hartlepool 16% 33
13 Walsall 16% 33
14 Kingston upon Hull, City of 17% 26
15 Waltham Forest 16% 31
16 Oldham 17% 22
17 Enfield 16% 26
18 Tameside 15% 40
19 Knowsley 16% 27
20 Bradford 17% 22

The data highlights that certain Outer London boroughs, significant parts of the West Midlands and pockets in the North-East and North-West are at greatest risk of bearing the full force of the surge in unemployment and poverty making it harder to recover.

Not every area has been affected equally by the economic consequences of COVID-19. Many places hit hardest are those that went into the health crisis with the weakest economies. This includes many seaside towns and many towns and cities of the ‘red wall turned blue’ seats that helped deliver the Conservatives’ election win last year.

Many of these places have a high share of jobs in hard hit sectors, such as tourism and manufacturing jobs which are now at high risk and are also likely to have been affected by falling local spending.

There are also a second set of places that may find it hardest to recover from COVID-19 where local economies and job opportunities were fairly strong before the pandemic, notably places in our biggest cities and particularly Outer London Boroughs such as Haringey and Barking and Dagenham. These densely populated areas have been strongly affected by social distancing requirements and have a relatively large share of jobs in local services such as retail, hospitality, arts and recreation.

In these areas, there are currently a very large number of people competing over each local job. Recovery may be helped by the fact that people in cities have the option to commute to nearby areas and our cities may prove to be more resilient economies, but we should not take it for granted.

Therefore, devising a one-size-fits-all strategy at a national level will not be effective at overcoming place-specific challenges. The Government has taken unprecedented steps to protect the economy during lockdown, now is not the time to lose momentum

Dave Innes, Head of Economics at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said:

“It can only be right that the places hardest hit by the ongoing economic crisis are the first priority of the recovery. Towns and cities which are already on the brink need urgent support to prevent a surge in poverty caused by rising unemployment.

“There is no one-size-fits-all recovery and many parts of Britain can’t afford the price of inaction. The Government has the chance to provide the skills and opportunities each part of our country needs to thrive if it targets investment where it is needed most.”

JRF is calling for the Government to deliver a ‘good jobs’ recovery, that lives up to the ambitious promises they made at the last election to level up the country. As a first step towards this, ministers need to:

  • Bring forward investments in targeted support, skills, and retraining schemes, to benefit the groups of workers in sectors most at risk of job losses. This should particularly focus on:
    • Adults over 25 with fewer formal qualifications
    • Women
    • BAME communities
  • Go further on its job creation programmes so that they better reflect the scale of risk facing many groups of workers.
  • Ensure the much-promised Shared Prosperity Fund provides additional targeted support to boost employment and opportunity in our weakest economies.
Original article link: https://www.jrf.org.uk/press/places-brink-parts-britain-risk-surging-poverty

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