Numbers of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance triples in York

Footfall is returning, but jobs are under threat in York. Photograph: YorkMix
20 Aug 2020 @ 7.24 am
| News

The longer term economic impact of the pandemic is beginning to emerge, via new figures released by City of York Council.

A report to the executive meeting later this month says that residents claiming out-of-work benefits has increased by 3,500 between February and June 2020 – “with significant further job losses to come”.

In addition, between March and June, the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance has almost tripled, from 180 to 530.

Council Tax Support claimants have risen by 29% over the same period. The report states: “It is likely that this represents on the beginning of much larger increases, particularly at the point when the furlough scheme comes to an end.”

Originally the local economic partnership had forecast as many as 17,500 jobs could be lost in York due to the pandemic. This has been adjusted down to 8,500 in the light of July’s revised Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts.

Council faces £20m loss

Photograph: GoSimpleTax on Flickr / YorkMix

City of York Council also estimates that it faces a £20m loss owing to the crisis.

This includes a £16m drop in income from council tax and business rates.

“The scale of council tax and business rates income losses will require further savings to be identified over the next 3 to 5 years, over and above those already identified,” the report says.

In other ways York has bounced back well. Footfall is now at around 70% of normal levels and rising, well above national average which is just above 50% for high streets.

City of York Council car parks closest to the city centre are averaging 80% occupancy, “although use of public transport is just a fraction of normal levels”.

The extension of the footstreets and other changes to aid social distancing have support from 62% of those taking part in a survey, the report says.

The council has previously revealed it is developing a ten-year plan “to enable York and the region to build back better by drawing on the city’s strengths; from utilising the biotech industry in the city, to seizing the once in a lifetime regeneration opportunity in York Central”.

The report will be considered at the executive meeting on Thursday 27 August.