Rural Norfolk and Suffolk ‘worst hit’ by coronavirus jobs crisis

A curlew feeding on the North Norfolk coast - one of the areas worst hit by the jobs crisis, accord

A curlew feeding on the North Norfolk coast - one of the areas worst hit by the jobs crisis, according to Price Bailey Picture: TERRY POSTLE - Credit: TERRY POSTLE

Rural parts of Norfolk and Suffolk heavily dependent on tourism have been hardest hit by the coronavirus jobs crisis, according to a new study.

The Suffolk Coast - Price Bailey thinks Norfolk and Suffolk's tourism industry could recover quickly

The Suffolk Coast - Price Bailey thinks Norfolk and Suffolk's tourism industry could recover quickly Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Accountancy firm Price Bailey analysed data from HM Revenue & Customs and National Statistics to reveal a stark picture for rural areas of the two counties.

Among the areas hardest hit is North Norfolk, where 35% of all employees are currently being paid via the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and 12,600 employees are currently on furlough out of a total employee workforce of 36,400.

MORE – Region’s desperate tourism fightback begins with bid to coax back visitorsIn Babergh (11,900 out of 38,400) and Great Yarmouth (13,200 out of 41,800), 31% of the workforce is on furlough.

In East Suffolk (23,600 out of 79,800) and West Suffolk (23,600 out of 79,800), 30% are on the scheme.

Across the UK economy as a whole, 31% of the workforce, or 9.4m out of 30m, has been put on furlough.

Norfolk and Suffolk’s urban areas have fared slightly better, with 27% of Ipswich’s workforce furloughed (18,700 out of 69,400), and 29% of Norwich’s (18,900 out of 64,600). South Norfolk, bordering Norwich and with a vibrant tech economy, has fared better than most with 27% furloughed (16,400 out of 61,600).

Across other parts of Norfolk, Breckland has 28% furloughed (17,000 out of 61,300),King’s Lynn and West Norfolk 29% (18,300 out of 63,700)and Broadland 29% (17,400 out of 58,300).

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Although rural parts of the counties have been hard hit, the reluctance of people to travel abroad could mean that holiday destinations recover quickly, said Price Bailey.

Partner Stuart Curtis said the data indicated that the recovery could be very geographically uneven, with a “wide disparity” across boroughs revealing a “stark divide” in how the economic crisis is affecting different areas.

“Furloughed employees will be spending less in their neighbourhoods, which will have a knock-on effect on local businesses. Areas which have been hardest hit could take considerably longer to recover lost output,” he said.

“The proportion of the workforce which has been furloughed is a barometer of the health of local businesses. As the furlough scheme unwinds, businesses will need to consider the turnover levels they are likely to achieve and the impact on cashflow of bringing furloughed staff back onto payroll. While some sectors of the economy likely will rebound quickly, others will need to take a more cautious approach.”

Price Bailey said the introduction of flexible furloughing will add complexities to the furlough claim process. It has processed more than 500 claims to date, from basic claims to those with complex salary sacrifice and pension arrangements.