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Unemployment, food banks and homelessness

 
Created on 30/06/2020 @ 12:20
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

It will take years for Powys to recover from the consequences of Covid-19, an impact assessment on the county has revealed.

At a meeting of the Public Service Board (PSB), Powys County Council’s head of transformation and communications Emma Palmer, gave a presentation to members based on an impact assessment of the virus on the county.

It is expected that unemployment will go up, there will be more use of foodbanks and more families will end up homeless.

Ms Palmer said: “We wanted to understand the situation and what has changed in the county as we look ahead.”

Powys had seen 23% of the workforce, over 13,000 people across the county, put on furlough leave by their employers.

Between March and May, Powys saw a 156% increase in unemployment claims, which is over 2,000 people.

Ms Palmer said: “One of the important things for us to consider is the likelihood of further redundancies of those staff furloughed and the impact of that come October, November, as we see the shift in respect of (UK) Government support.”

Ms Palmer explained that the accommodation and food sector in Powys had seen a fall of 92% of GDP (gross domestic product) during the pandemic.

Ms Palmer added that the assessment predicted that in five years’ time, the GVA (gross value added) will have fallen by 4.4% and that 7.3% of jobs will have been lost.

Ms Palmer said: “Even if we look back to 2018, in five years’ time we still won’t be in as good a position as we were then.

“We believe we will see an increase in the number of food banks. We believe most people are going to be financially stretched with unemployment claims rising.

“We believe we will see an increase in homelessness more than we’ve seen already. We believe it will be families in the future and we think that will also result in an increase of referrals to our statutory services.”

She also said that the impact of closing formal schooling during the lockdown would have an impact on a generation of children that will be unclear for a time.

After the pandemic, there would need to be a concerted campaign to entice visitors back to the county.

Ms Palmer added: “We need to tell people far and wide when the time is right that Powys is open and do what we can in terms of promotion.”

Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) director of primary, community care and mental health, Jamie Marchant, said: “What were priorities six months ago, may well not be the priorities in the next six, nine to 12 months or longer as we adapt to what the new world is bringing us.

“We have to have that question in our head every day now, are we focussing on the right areas?”

Dyfed-Powys Police superintendent, Steve Davies added: “The data is pretty sobering. The socio economic position will impact on policing.”

The report will be published soon and copies will be shared out.

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