A journey through the economy in a time of Covid: Tales of hardship and hope

The full economic impact of Covid-19 has yet to be felt.

Lockdown triggered the most severe downturn the UK has faced for 100 years, but households and businesses were cushioned from the initial force of it by an emergency humanitarian response from the government of breathtaking scale.

But some of the support is beginning to be withdrawn.

The Job Retention Scheme, which has subsidised the incomes of six million people across the UK, is set to end in October.

We are about to find out how many businesses can afford to take staff back.

Job losses are inevitable.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has identified the parts of the UK which are most exposed to a sharp rise in unemployment as the furlough scheme is phased out.

The parts of the UK that have been impacted most by the coronavirus crisis. Credit: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

The list includes seaside resorts already down on their luck, towns and cities in the Midlands and the North of England who have traditionally voted Labour but put their faith in the Conservatives at the last election, and boroughs on the outskirts of the capital. Even mighty London is vulnerable.

These places have things in common: high furlough rates, high numbers of people working in the sectors of the economy which have been hardest hit, and low numbers of job vacancies.

Many of them were struggling with high levels of poverty before this crisis began.

ITV News spent the week travelling from the Golden Mile in Blackpool to White Hart Lane in Haringey, seeking out the people whose livelihoods have been affected by lockdown and the ongoing social distancing.

The restrictions imposed to contain Covid-19 have touched everyone - but not equally.

As someone put it to me: “We are all in the same storm, we are just not all in the same boat”.

ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills explains the figures show how the coronavirus pandemic has not affected everyone equally

We deliberately sought out the most vulnerable and those most in need of help. We spoke to human beings who, in some cases, are clearly up against the limits of what they feel able to bear, and we felt moved and humbled by their tales of hope and despair.

What follows is their story and, in a sense, our story too. Because, as we are often reminded, we are all in this together.

At least, in theory. The truth is rather different.