People living in the Midlands believe their region is likely to be worst hit by the Coronavirus crisis, and the vast majority say their local economy has been negatively affected.
The findings come from an exclusive ITV News survey of the English regions on attitudes to the pandemic, and the prospects for Boris Johnson’s pledge to “level-up” the region.
68% of those asked in the Central region say their local economy and high street has taken a hit due to the pandemic, and around a third say they are now personally worse off.
Research by Staffordshire University suggests they could be right to be worried.
Professor David Etherington of Staffordshire University has published research which estimates 27,000 jobs in Stoke-on-Trent alone could be lost, because it is particularly vulnerable to the economic effects of the lockdown.
But it’s not just Stoke. Prof Etherington believes the same can be said about other towns and communities which make up the so-called “Red Wall” of former Labour seats across the Midlands.
He said; “cities like Stoke have never really recovered from the 2008 economic crisis, so there have been a lot of job losses and the replacement jobs tended to be low paid and insecure. Meanwhile, the numbers of people claiming benefits had increased.
“The Covid crisis is an acceleration of those trends. We have now seen more and more people claiming benefits.”
That is reflected in the use of food banks. The “Let’s All Eat” charity in Sutton-in-Ashfield has reported demand doubling since the early days of the pandemic. Many of the people asking for help now are those who have been on furlough but are now finding they have lost their job permanently.