Stark report reveals hit to Norfolk economy due to coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 17:33 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 18:33 30 April 2020

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry


The battering which Norfolk’s economy will take because of coronavirus has been revealed in a stark new report.

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group on Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSteve Morphew, leader of the Labour group on Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Norfolk County Council report quotes research from the Centre for Progressive Policy, which paints a worrying picture of the economic impact of coronavirus on the county.

That research suggests the estimated drop in economic activity will range from a 41pc fall in Norwich and Breckland to a 25pc decline in South Norfolk.

The report warns that the tourism and leisure sector, dominated by small businesses, will be hit especially hard, while the agriculture and food industry is also particularly affected.

It states: “Across the whole of Norfolk, our biggest number of businesses are in some of the sector areas most likely to be adversely affected – construction, agriculture, leisure and tourism and retail.

“Compared with the East of England and all of England, we have a much higher proportion of businesses in the agricultural sector, along with tourism and leisure sectors.

“The latter, being mostly small businesses dependent on seasonal trade, are at considerable risk of failure.”

The county council says a joined up approach in helping the county’s economy recover will be essential - and it is ready to help lead it.

Work to draw up a tourism action plan to help when the lockdown is eased, is already “being accelerated”.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council said: “Although the government is offering support to a range of sectors, there will still be a big impact on our economy.

“The council is working with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to devise the best strategy to deal with this.”

Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group, said it would not be enough simply to go back to how things were.

He said: “This awful situation provides an opportunity to rethink what our economic priorities should be. The way we recover needs to help provide more resilience in the future.

“We have relied on smaller businesses and local shops during this and they need to be rewarded and protected.

“And, with the bigger businesses we need to ensure that money which is created in Norfolk stays in Norfolk.

“So, for instance, if we are generating offshore power, more of that money needs to be spent to protect the people of Great Yarmouth and Norfolk and not just poured into national coffers.”

And Liberal Democrat group leader Steffan Aquarone said wguke there was untapped potential in Norfolk, rural areas faced major challenges, such as a lack of connectivity and an “exodus of young people”.

He warned: “Norfolk’s economy was already facing significant challenge from Brexit and the climate emergency, now coronavirus risks making entire swathes of Norfolk’s workforce redundant.

“Norfolk needs vision, ambition and leadership to cope with these challenges and create opportunity and prosperity. Whether we sink or swim depends on whether the county council can step up and take the lead.”

The report will be discussed at a virtual meeting of the Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council cabinet on Monday, May 11.

A recent study found that Cromer and Sheringham are among the worst hit towns in the country when it comes to visitor spending during the coronavirus outbreak.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press