'Tale of two halves': new study shows East's inequalities during Covid

Shoppers on London Road North in Lowestoft ahead of the second lockdown

A new survey has found that 44% of adults in the East of England were now less happy than they were before the pandemic. - Credit: Mick Howes

A new survey has highlighted inequalities in the East of England, showing some people felt richer and healthier through the pandemic while others were sicker and less well off.

The study found 27% of adults in the East of England felt wealthier and healthier compared to before the pandemic. But 25% also felt less wealthy and 32% less healthy.

The poll of 3,000 people also found that 44% of adults in the East of England were now less happy than they were before the pandemic. It went on to identify that being apart from family and friends, feeling isolated and anxiety were the key reasons why people felt less happy with their lives.

In the East of England, 39% of people said their mental health had become worse over the course of the last year while only 11% said it was better. 

Commenting on the findings Nina Skero, chief executive of Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) which carried out the study, said: “When thinking about the past year, health, wealth, and happiness are not the first words that come to mind for most, yet there is reason for optimism looking forward.

"Given the continuing vaccine rollout and roadmap for easing restrictions, Cebr anticipates a return to economic growth, with quarterly GDP expansion of 4.5% and 4.2% expected for Q2 and Q3, respectively. The combination of these factors is set to drive improvements in health, wealth, and happiness.
“Nevertheless, there remain considerable downside risks.

"One of the more significant near-term developments will be the upcoming tapering of the furlough scheme, which is set to be fully withdrawn at the end of September.

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"Cebr expects this to be accompanied by an uptick in redundancies, resulting in a peak unemployment rate of 6.5% in the final quarter of 2021 and thus putting some pressure on individuals’ livelihoods."

Emma Walker, chief marketing officer at LifeSearch, which commissioned the study, said: "The last year has been like no other and it’s no surprise to see the downward pressure on measures of health, wealth and happiness.

"It’s also true to say that we found a tale of two halves, some were able to use the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect and make some positive change in their life from saving more money, exercising more or changing diet, while others have suffered in ways that have tested the fragility of our existence."

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