Widening chasms

This report from UK think tank Bright Blue examines the differences in Universal Credit uptake to observe the severity of covid-19’s economic impact.

It is no secret that the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening existing inequalities. The pandemic has had an asymmetric impact on jobs, putting the greatest strain on areas where sectors such as hospitality and tourism are significant, and which are more likely to employ low-income workers. By examining differences in Universal Credit (UC) uptake across England, we can observe the severity of the pandemic’s economic impact on each local authority in England. We can explore the consequences of the pandemic on geographic inequality, specifically the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda which is trying to better support so-called ‘left-behind’ areas in coastal towns and industrial communities. This analysis is unique in two ways. First, it uses the latest available data on UC claimants, which is from October 2020. Second, it goes beyond examining only increases in unemployment by English local authorities, by looking at overall increases in UC claimants, meaning we will capture both those who have become unemployed but also those still in work who have lost hours or income and now need to claim UC.

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