‘Red Wall’ unemployment levels soar due to Covid


New analysis from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership has shown that unemployment levels are soaring across the ‘Red Wall’ as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The findings have been revealed following the announcement from the Prime Minister last night that vast swathes of the North would be going back into stricter lockdown restrictions, raising concerns that these economies would suffer even more in the weeks and months to come.

The analysis disputes previous claims from the IFS that London and the South East will take the brunt of the economic impact from the pandemic.

Middlesbrough now has the highest number of claimants, with 7,250 people currently on unemployment benefits.

Leeds East has seen the largest increase in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits, which has now risen by 3,400 claimants. Workington, which has seen the lowest increase, has still seen 915 more people claiming.

The unemployment rate remains worst in Blackpool South, where it has almost doubled to 13.3% – almost twice that of the average for England (6.6%).

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Penistone and Stockbridge is almost one and a half times higher (144%) than before the pandemic. However, as unemployment was relatively low prior to the pandemic, the area still has the lowest number of people claiming at 2,260.

The percentage increase in Darlington’s claimant count – which has the lowest of any of the ‘Red Wall’ areas – is still 47% higher than before.

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “What’s alarming is that many of these so-called ‘left-behind’ areas, which have already seen dramatic increases in unemployment levels in recent months, are now going back into further restrictions.

“This makes a clear case for further support for communities now under stricter lockdown, as well as a comprehensive plan for recovery, if we’re to avoid economic catastrophe.

“That said, it’s still important we take these figures in context. PMI figures released over the weekend showed some small signs of recovery in parts of Yorkshire and the North West.

“If we’re careful, the government can work with local leaders to put measures in places to sustain this progress. Otherwise, there is a very real risk the North could end up falling decades behind.” 

Image credit: REUTERS / Stefan Wermuth - stock.adobe.com

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