3,400-plus job losses in east Suffolk due to the virus - and more still expected
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
Unemployment in east Suffolk has doubled - and council chiefs say further significant job cuts are inevitable.
The news for what is generally considered a prosperous part of Suffolk and home to three of its major employers - the Port of Felixstowe, BT and Sizewell B - comes alongside news that the economy nationally shrank by 9.9% last year.
In the East Suffolk Council area, business closures and redundancies has seen the number of jobless rise by 3,400 to just over 7,000 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the Freeport East bid documents it was estimated that the pandemic could affect between 1-5% of the local labour force - claiming that in Ipswich 3.4% of the total labour force have lost their jobs (2,518 jobs) and Colchester 3.7% (2,473 jobs).
East Suffolk Council is now looking ahead to see what needs to be done to repair the damage - and what action can be taken.
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In a report to the scrutiny committee on February 18, Craig Rivett, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development, said: "This severe contraction in the economy has unsurprisingly led to a dramatic increase in unemployment at national and local levels.
"Within East Suffolk jobless totals increased by 96% over the year with the number of people being unemployed increasing by over 3,400 to just over 7,000."
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He said "further significant job cuts are inevitable" when the furlough scheme ends.
The council has so far allocated £80million of government funding to help 6,000 businesses and worked hard to help various sectors respond to the challenges.
Preparing for recovery from the virus, the council says the district has massive opportunities for job and wealth creation - including the Freeport East project, regeneration projects in Felixstowe and Lowestoft, the £1.2m Smart Towns Programme for 12 town centres, digital projects at BT and Lowestoft, and a renewed tourism drive through the Unexplored England campaign.
The possibility of Sizewell C would bring a £20billion investment if given the go-ahead - with 25,000 jobs across the 10-year construction period and 8,500 jobs at its peak - while huge new wind farm plans are expected to bring in £1.3bn per year.
Mr Rivett said the council had secured £7.2m grant aid in the last five years for regeneration and development. The council currently has 27.1m worth of bids in the pipeline to deliver our economic growth programmes and support the local recovery.