Warning 41,000 more could be unemployed in Norfolk by end of year
PUBLISHED: 10:48 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:52 07 October 2020
A sombre warning has been issued that a further 41,000 Norfolk people could be unemployed by the end of the year, as the impact of coronavirus continues to bite.
With the government’s furlough scheme coming to a close at the end of October and pandemic restrictions continuing, there are fears that could increase the number of job losses.
Office for National Statistics figures for mid August showed Norfolk’s claimant count stood at 28,710, up on 17,364 at the same period in 2019.
And leaders at Norfolk County Council said models suggest, by the end of 2020, there could be 41,000 more unemployed people in Norfolk than currently - roughly equivalent to the populations of Dereham and Thetford.
Council leader Andrew Proctor warned: “This could be worse for young people and we know already that over the past months, nationally, 60pc of employers stopped recruiting apprentices altogether. Many existing apprentices have been unable to complete their training programmes.
“Financial insecurity leads to many issues such as poor physical and mental health in people, as well as an increase in inter-family problems such as domestic violence and drugs and alcohol abuse.”
The issue was raised at a meeting of the council’s cabinet this week, prompted by a question by Liberal Democrat councillor Tim East.
The response he received said the modelling could lead to 55,000 more unemployed people by the end of 2020, although the authority subsequently revised that to 41,000.
The council’s modelling, based on the central of three Office of Budget Responsibility forecasts, the two others outlining more positive and negative outlooks, shows Norwich, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk and South Norfolk are likely to be hit hardest.
Mr Proctor said sectors in Norfolk likely to suffer from highest unemployment levels are: wholesale; retail and motor trade; human health and social activities; education; manufacturing; accommodation and food services and administrative and support activities.
Mr Proctor highlighted how the council is running the Norfolk Assistance Scheme in Exchequer Services, where anyone can self-refer or can be referred in by other professionals - to get financial support and food.
He said the authority was working with other organisations to make sure government funding is used to support the most vulnerable and in need and was working with district councils to support the “no homelessness in Norfolk” programme of interventions.
He added the council was continuing to press the government for more money to support council services.
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And he said: “We are also working with the New Anglia LEP and districts to support our local economy and, through our Norfolk Delivery Plan, help as many businesses as possible to survive, and as many people as possible to stay in work or secure alternative work or training, with a strong focus on social inclusion.”
The Department for Work and Pensions said extra resources were funding extra help at Norfolk’s job centres.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We’ve been there for families across the country since the onset of the pandemic, processing a record number of claims and we stand ready to support people into work by doubling the number of Work Coaches nationally to 27,000, ensuring jobseekers have access to personalised support - including those in Norfolk.
“From next month young people will be starting their six-month placements on our £2 billion Kickstart scheme, and earlier this week we launched our new Job Entry Targeted Support scheme, aimed at helping those made jobless by the pandemic back into employment as we build back better.”
‘I knew it was coming, but it was still a shock’
Emma Flock, 50, from Norwich, was made redundant from her job as a client relations manager at a firm of solicitors two weeks ago after being on furlough since May.
“I suppose in some ways I knew it was coming but it was still a shock,” she said.
“In some ways it kind of comforting to think I’m not the only one. There are a lot of people in the same boat. I also count myself lucky that I have a husband who is still earning and we’re OK at the moment.
“Hopefully something will come along within the next few months, otherwise it might be a very different story.”
She said she had been heartened by offers of help. “There are a lot of people and businesses out there that want to help.
“When I put a post out on LinkedIn straight away I had business contacts saying they’d get in touch if they hear anything and I already have two or three really interesting meetings lined up.”
She added: “I hope to be back in employment as soon as possible. I’m not very good at sitting around doing nothing. I loved my job. I thought that would see me through to the end of my career.
“For me it’s about seeing this as an opportunity that maybe there is something else out there.”
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