York has already lost 14K jobs – and could take five years to recover from the pandemic

It could take five years for York to recover from the economic, social and health impacts of the pandemic.

York lost 14,000 jobs between April 2019 and 2020.

And the number of people claiming Universal Credit has has increased.

Simon Brereton, head of economic growth at the council, told city leaders: “There is a concern around the broader social impacts from that and it’s not surprising that we’ve seen an increase in people going to food banks.”

Around a quarter of jobs in the city are in the hard hit sectors of retail, hospitality and arts.

He said 6,800 residents are still on furlough – a significant drop from the peak of 30,000 residents on furlough in July.

Mr Brereton warned the city must plan for the long-term, saying: “In terms of economic impacts, we’re only at the start.

“We feel like we’re through the worst in terms of the city centre – a vaccine is going to enable people to come back to the shops again.

“But economic shocks like we have had take something like three to five years to recover from.

“Those are not just economic impacts, they are social impacts and health impacts as well.”

Cause for optimism

Executive director of York BID Andrew Lowson

He said alternative jobs must be found for people who are out of work, adding: “We need to think about how we’re going to provide the range of flexible, particularly part-time, work that enables households to earn the money that they need to live in our beautiful but rather expensive city.”

Andrew Lowson, director of York BID, warned leaders to expect more business closures in the new year.

But he said one cause for optimism is that retail and hospitality businesses can recover fast when customers return.

He said projects like York Central and Castle Gateway attract business, adding: “My one hope is that maybe it won’t be as long a recovery period because if we can get visitors back to York, if we get people spending, retail and hospitality can come back quickly.”

James Farrar, from the local enterprise partnership, added: “We have to have some confidence.

“York is still the most sought-after location in the uk where people want to live.

“As people work more remotely, quality of place will be a much bigger driver in where they want to locate their business and we’re already seeing this in the investment conversations that we’re having with people.”

Detailed economic data from York BID shows that online shopping increased five-fold in York between April and June 2020 – and around £100 million was lost from the city centre economy.

And the Government’s Autumn Statement predictions would see around £700 million lost in York this year.

But the Eat Out to Help Out scheme dramatically boosted the hospitality industry over the summer – when figures show about £100 million was spent in cafes and restaurants.