Thousands of new benefits claims as covid batters Liverpool economy

Troubling new data has laid bare the coronavirus pandemic's crippling impact on Liverpool's economy as benefits claims surge in the city.

The virus has already battered the UK economy as a whole, with GDP shrinking by 20.4% by April this year.

Now a report to Liverpool Council's employment and skills select committee has revealed that the number of benefits claimants in the city has lurched upwards by almost 14,000 from pre-coronavirus levels.

Claimant numbers in the city rose by 87% – and 8.8% of the city's residents are now in receipt of benefits.

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The report warned that the continuing economic fallout of the pandemic could see those numbers rise even higher.

The report said: "HMRC has released the first estimates of furloughed workers at local authority level.

"This identifies that 60,100 residents in Liverpool have been furloughed; 29% of all eligible jobs.

"In addition, 14,200 self-employed workers in Liverpool have submitted Self-Employment Income Support claims, worth a value of £35.2m.

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"In total therefore, there are circa 75,000 Liverpool residents whose current employment is being protected through time limited Government schemes that are due to end in October 2020.

"The impact of ending those schemes upon the Liverpool labour market may be extremely significant in terms of local unemployment."

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The effects of coronavirus on industry are continuing to be felt in the city, with a number of major companies announcing job cuts.

Drinks giant Halewood and the city centre's M&S Bank Arena are two of the Liverpool-based companies to announce redundancies this week – but there are fears the end of the furlough scheme in October could lead to even more job losses.

The council's employment and skills select committee will discuss the report on the city's economy at a meeting next week.