The Yorkshire and the Humber local authorities where workers have been hit hardest by COVID-19

Our research reveals the local authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber where workers have faced the biggest impact from the pandemic.

28 April 2021
  • Our analysis shows that North Yorkshire is home to the highest proportion of jobs (14%) in the two sectors most affected last year by the pandemic, followed by 13% in York and 9% in East Riding of Yorkshire
  • ONS data shows that the accommodation & food services and arts & entertainment sectors have witnessed the sharpest fall in economic output during the pandemic
  • However, 8% of jobs in East Riding of Yorkshire fall in the two sectors which have seen the most growth during the pandemic, followed by 6.8% in Rotherham and 6.6% in Wakefield
  • Last year we pledged to lend £220 million to support businesses across the North over the next three years to help them get back on track

Our research reveals the local authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber where workers have faced the biggest impact from COVID-19.

ONS data shows that the accommodation & food services and arts & entertainment sectors experienced reductions in economic output of 56% and 29% respectively between February and December 2020, the steepest falls of all industries in the UK. The most recent HMRC data also shows that at the end of February 2021, 56% of employees in accommodation & food services and 55% of employees in arts & entertainment were furloughed.

The analysis reveals that North Yorkshire has the highest proportion of jobs in these industries in Yorkshire and the Humber, with 14% of workers in the local authority employed in these sectors. The impact of the pandemic is already being seen in the area, with Job Seekers Allowance claims rising by 151% from January 2020 to January 2021.

York ranks just behind with 13% of jobs in these industries. The authority has seen a 211% increase in Job Seekers Allowance from January 2020 to January 2021 and a 27% increase in unemployment in the year to September 2020. East Riding of Yorkshire (9%) has the third highest proportion of workers in these sectors in the region, which saw a 34% increase in unemployment in the year to September 2020 and a rise in Job Seekers Allowance claims of 52%.

However, some local authorities in the region have a significant proportion of jobs in sectors which have grown over the past year. ONS data reveals that the public administration and water supply sectors grew by 1.6% and 0.7% respectively last year, with 8% jobs in East Riding of Yorkshire falling in these industries, the highest proportion of workers across the region. Rotherham ranks second with 6.8% of workers in these two sectors and has seen unemployment over a year period to September 2020 fall by over 36% - the largest drop in the region. Up the M1, Wakefield has the third highest proportion of jobs in these two sectors with 6.6%, just slightly less than the proportion of workers employed in the worst affected sectors.

Home to the Yorkshire Dales, many local authorities across Yorkshire and the Humber are renowned for their tourism and hospitality offering, which has made the past year particularly tough on the region. But with these sectors of the economy beginning to re-open and the furlough scheme helping to protect jobs, workers in these industries could be set for a more encouraging time in the months ahead.

"We saw a mixture of good and bad periods throughout the pandemic – sales slumped to begin with, then really picked up at Christmas, as the universal “shift to online” accelerated things. Our biggest hope now is ..."

Read more about what we're doing and the experiences of some Yorkshire based small business owners below.

iwoca funding pledge

Last year we announced a pledge to lend £220 million to small businesses in the North by the end of 2023 to help them recover from the Covid-19 crisis. This commitment comes on the back of our £100 million pledge for small businesses in the North that we made in 2018, which we achieved almost a year ahead of schedule.

Over the past two years we've funded nearly 3,200 small business customers in the North. As the Government champions a levelling up agenda, our pledge will help small businesses across the North grow and contribute to the UK’s economic recovery.

Christoph Rieche, CEO of iwoca, said: “The pandemic has been particularly tough on small businesses in towns and cities across Yorkshire and the Humber where tourism and hospitality play a major role in the local economy. We’re committed to providing business owners with the support they need to get back to running successful businesses and hiring staff once again. As the economy re-opens, our funding pledge will give them the best chance of recovering and thriving in the long-run.”

Will Wright, iwoca customer and owner of Discover Coffee – an online tea, coffee and associated gifts retailer based in North Yorkshire – said: “We saw a mixture of good and bad periods throughout the pandemic – sales slumped to begin with, then really picked up at Christmas, as the universal “shift to online” accelerated things. Our biggest hope now is that the supply chain recovers quickly. A lot of products are currently impacted by shipping issues along with the shortage of cardboard in the UK which is making some key lines challenging.

“We have a team of seven. We've had to furlough a few people for various reasons – slower demand meaning they were no longer needed, or those shielding when they couldn't work from home. We aren't planning on hiring any new staff until things settle down – we’re unsure at the moment what our baseline/run rate is and until we know that, we won't take the risk.”

Margaret Bamford, iwoca customer and owner of Bamford Brothers – a wholesale business selling potatoes to fish and chip shops, pubs, restaurants and takeaways throughout West Yorkshire – said: “When the pandemic hit, we lost 75% of trade overnight. Over the next four weeks, trade gradually got back to normal. We had to furlough some of our staff, but we managed to keep going, just trying to see what would happen. The future looks bright with lots of new opportunities for our customers and trade in general – takeaway trade offering delivery is booming. Due to this we’ve expanded the business and taken on more staff. We’re looking at further hiring, including opportunities for apprentices.”

Full analysis of research used is available on request.

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Charlotte is a PR & Communications specialist at iwoca.

Article updated on: 29 April 2021

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