East of England economy among hardest hit during Covid-19 first wave

Empty streets in Lowestoft during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Empty streets in Lowestoft during the Coronavirus lockdown. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

The East of England's economy took a huge dive during the first wave of the coronavirus, new figures revealed.

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that between April and June last year the East of England's GDP fell by 20.9% — second only to the West Midlands where GDP fell by 21%.

This is compared to a national drop of 18.8% across the whole of the UK. The smallest decline came from London, at just 16.6%.

Commenting on the figures, Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “These figures show the huge impact which the Covid-19 pandemic has had, and continues to have, on our economy.

“A number of our biggest sectors, particularly tourism, hospitality and leisure, have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic.


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"The roll-out of vaccines brings hope that there is an end in sight for restrictions but our businesses need both short-term and longer-term support to survive and thrive.

“In the short term, there are grants available for businesses which have been forced to close and national initiatives like the furlough scheme are still helping firms.

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"We worked closely with local partners to produce the Economic Recovery Restart plan last summer, which outlines the work which is under way, and we will be working on the Rebuild plan over the coming months. Actions identified in the Visitor Economy Recovery Plan are also under way.”

It comes after it was revealed that the number of job seekers in the East of England has ballooned by more than 130% in the past 12 months.

A report from insurance firm Hello Safe, shows that nearly 15,000 more people in the East have started claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) over the past year.

Based on ONS data compiled between December 2019 and November 2020, it shows the number of JSA claimants has gone from 10,774 to 24,972. An increase of 131.8%.

The ONS has also released new data showing that the number of payroll employees has fallen by 828,000 since February 2020.

Alongside this, the UK unemployment rate was estimated at 5.0% in the three months to November 2020.

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