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UK’s unemployment crisis: “levelling up” on hold as Northern England hit hardest


  • UK down 649,000 jobs since crisis began; weekly hours worked take record fall
  • Regions hit hardest by unemployment have a higher proportion of social rented households than many other areas of the UK 

ONS figures released on 16 July 2020 confirm the UK is facing the most severe unemployment crisis in decades, with the greatest annual decrease in weekly hours worked since records began. This shocking trajectory comes despite £160 billion in government spending to support jobs and businesses in the first phase of economic recovery. 

Coronavirus has now cost the UK 649,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic, with 2.6 million working age adults now relying on benefits.  However, the job retention scheme continues to hide the extent of the UK’s jobs crisis, with 9.4 million jobs still protected by furlough.  

Today’s data reveals that the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic is widening regional disparities, with higher unemployment rates in regions where unemployment was high pre-pandemic, and within communities with higher numbers of social rented households.

In England, the claimant count figure for June was 7.3%. But the data shows higher unemployment in communities with a significant number of social rented households:

Region Claimant count  Homes rented from Housing Associations and Councils
North East 9.9% 21.5%
North West 8.3% 17.5%
Yorkshire and Humber 7.8% 17.1%
East Midlands 7.0% 15.0%
West Midlands 8.5% 18.2%
East 6.4% 15.0%
London 7.5% 21.9%
South East 6.0% 13.0%
South West 5.9% 12.7%

Managing Director of Communities that Work, Lynsey Sweeney, said: “The evidence shows that the regions hit hardest by unemployment have a higher proportion of social rented households than many other areas of the UK. 

“The Government’s commitment to a new Plan for Jobs to secure youth employment, whilst doubling the number of job centre work coaches, and investing in jobs of the future are welcome news. However, these efforts don’t go far enough to protect the UK’s most disadvantaged communities. 

“Without targeted support to tackle unemployment for the most vulnerable communities, the UK risks widening the wealth and poverty gap that already exists across the country, putting the Government’s flagship “levelling up” agenda at risk. Social housing tenants are among the most economically vulnerable communities in the country, and the pandemic has compounded the challenges residents face in finding secure employment.”

Research shows that social housing providers invest over £70m every year in employment-related services, making them the UK’s second biggest investor in employment support after the DWP (IPPR, Communities that Work, 2018).

Lynsey added: “The Government must now work with housing providers to deliver and direct local support and funding, to ensure that the hardest hit and the hardest to reach households don’t fall further behind.”  

Communities that Work is the leading voice for housing providers that help people and communities access employment.


 Media Contact:

Name: Leslie Wertheimer, Account Director at BECG




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