Communities already gripped by unemployment are set to be plunged deeper into misery as the coronavirus jobs crisis unfolds, a report warns tonight.
Neighbourhoods battling “employment deprivation” face being hit harder by looming job cuts, according to a study by the Communities in Charge campaign.
It says: “We found that 44% of neighbourhoods in the top two deciles of employment deprivation in 2019 (or ‘job-poor neighbourhoods’) are now deemed to be in the top 20% most at-risk neighbourhoods for Covid-19 related job losses.
“These neighbourhoods, where over 15% of the working-age population were already involuntarily excluded from the labour market either through unemployment, sickness, disability or caring responsibilities, now face the prospect of over 27.5% of employees in that neighbourhood losing their jobs.”
The 31-page report identifies Blackpool, Hull and Mansfield with a high number of “double distress” communities likely to be badly hit because of a high proportion of workers in worst-affected industries like retail, leisure and hospitality.
In Blackpool, 55% of neighbourhoods are “facing ‘double distress”, with 20.9% “existing employment deprivation” and 31.7% of “employees at risk” of losing their jobs “due to Covid-19”, the campaign says.
In Hull, 37% of neighbourhoods face double distress, with 16.6% existing employment deprivation and 27.3% of workers at risk of coronavirus-fuelled unemployment.
In Mansfield, 37% of neighbourhoods face double distress, with 14.4% existing employment deprivation and 27.2% of workers at risk of unemployment caused by the pandemic.
Big cities are also likely to be affected.
In Manchester, 30% of neighbourhoods face double distress, with 13.9% existing employment deprivation and 26.7% of staff at risk of unemployment triggered by the crisis.
In Liverpool, 27% of neighbourhoods face double distress, with 17.6% existing employment deprivation and 26.4% of workers at risk of Covid-related unemployment.
And in Newcastle, 33% of neighbourhoods face double distress, with 12.8% existing employment deprivation and 26.9% of employees at risk of the dole queue thanks to the outbreak.
Many of the neighbourhoods are in seaside towns such as Great Yarmouth, Scarborough and Torbay.
Communities in Charge believes there are at least 22 council areas where at least a quarter of neighbourhoods face double distress.
The think tank urged the Government to hand communities cash for local economic regeneration rather than trying to direct funding from Whitehall.
It wants at least a quarter of the Shared Prosperity Fund, expected to be announced in this autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review, to be given to local partnerships.
Locality chief executive Tony Armstrong said: “The Government has a chance to tackle the coming jobs crisis head-on and level up the country at the same time.
“But to do that it has to recognise that there are specific neighbourhoods around the country where the need for good jobs is at its most intense.
“Community organisations are ideally placed to help.
“They are concentrated in the places most in need of levelling up, and they are custom-made to help people into work.
“That’s why communities themselves should be put directly in charge of the Shared Prosperity Fund and other efforts to improve local economies.
“They know best how to create jobs locally – and if they’re left out of the decision-making process, investment will inevitably end up flowing to the people and places which need it less.
“It’s time to put communities in charge.”
Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed said: “Ten years of Tory neglect has left hard-up communities reeling – the pandemic could deal these places a death blow unless the Government steps in.
“It’s time for this Government to mean what it says about levelling up – put communities in the driving seat so they can rebuild after the crisis.”
A Government spokesman said: “We’ve offered one of the world’s most generous support packages, including the furlough scheme which has supported more than nine million jobs.
“We’re determined to level up every part of the country – that’s why we’re launching the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and why we’re empowering our regions by devolving money, resources and control away from Westminster.
“And our Plan for Jobs will continue to ensure that nobody is left without hope or opportunity.”