New report shows true cost of Covid 19 on the North's health and economy

  • Video report by Andy Bonner

A new report out today suggests the economic divide between the North and South could be bigger than we first thought and has widened during the coronavirus pandemic.

It says the North of England’s economy has been hit harder than the rest of the country during the Covid-19 pandemic with inequalities between the North and the rest of the country exacerbated.

The report authors, led by academics from the University of Manchester, University of Liverpool, Newcastle University and the University of York make a series of recommendations to help stop further deteriorations in the level of inequalities.

The report COVID-19 and the Northern Powerhouse: Tackling Health Inequalities for UK Health and Productivity looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the health and economic inequalities between the Northern Powerhouse and the rest of England.

It found the pandemic hit the North harder and more deeply and that mitigating measures could be put in place to stop inequalities rising further.

The report estimates the economic cost of the increased mortality in the North during the pandemic at £6.86bn and the reductions in mental health in the region due to the pandemic at around £5bn a year.

The report found:

  • An extra 57.7 more people per 100,000 died in the Northern Powerhouse than the rest of England between March and July and this could cost the UK economy an additional £6.86bn in reduced productivity

  • Mental and financial wellbeing was hardest hit in the Northern Powerhouse, as was loneliness

  • Reductions in mental wellbeing in the Northern Powerhouse could cost the UK economy up to £5 billion in reduced productivity

  • Austerity disproportionately affected the Northern Powerhouse, particularly areas of high deprivation which led to reduced productivity

  • Reductions in the core spending power of local authorities in the Northern Powerhouse by £1 per-head cost £3.17 per-head in lost productivity, equivalent to around a £2bn loss in GDP per-year, or £16bn between 2011 and 2018

  • Pre-pandemic child health, a key predictor of life-long health and economic productivity, was poor and deteriorating in the Northern Powerhouse. Since the pandemic, adverse trends in poverty, education, employment and mental health for children and young people have been exacerbated

  • Economic outcomes, particularly unemployment rates, were hardest hit in the Northern Powerhouse.

The report's authors make a series of recommendations including a plan to reduce child poverty in the North by increasing child benefit and extending the provision of free childcare.

Another recommendation is to put additional resources into the test and trace system in the Northern Powerhouse. It also calls for the clinically vulnerable and deprived communities to be targeted in the first phase of the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine.