A THINK tank has warned Bradford faces long-lasting damage because of the economic turmoil brought about by coronavirus.

The cross-party Social Market Foundation (SMF) warned that the UK faced a “sluggish” recovery after the severe economic impact of the lockdown.

Its analysis suggested that banking and financial services face a severe impact, with construction also badly-hit over the period 2020-23.

Other industries, including transport, manufacturing, hospitality and other services are assessed as facing a “moderate” impact over the medium term.

The SMF report said: “The places that face the greatest impact from the downturn are largely in the more affluent South East and London.

“However, an area’s recovery from disruption will depend on local resilience and pre-crisis levels of economic output and employment.”

Taking account of pre-existing unemployment and previous recovery times, the SMF found the places that face the biggest economic hit and the slowest revival are:

– Hull

– Bradford

– Walsall

– Manchester

– Peterborough

– Lambeth

– Thurrock

– Brent

– Redbridge and Waltham Forest

– Sandwell

“After the financial crisis, London recovered quickly because of a concentration of jobs in banking and insurance,” said the SMF report.

"Whilst these jobs will face the biggest initial blow from coronavirus, evidence suggests the capital is more economically resilient and the labour market will recover quicker than the rest of the country.

“As the Government tries to get its economic agenda back on track, it needs to be aware of those areas with multiple moderate or severe impact industries which could equate to a spike in localised job losses. This will be compounded if these areas had high pre-crisis rates of unemployment.”

It added: “Our view is that the UK economy will take on a sluggish U-shaped recovery.

“The possibility of a returning surge of coronavirus, enforced social-distancing measures and a withdrawal of the Government’s fiscal response will likely exacerbate common recession-induced behaviour changes, such as reduced consumer confidence and spending.”

The SMF said forecasters predicted unemployment could increase by 1.5 million due to the crisis, leaving a total of around 2.9 million out of work.

“The consensus of recent forecasts suggests that unemployment will not recover to previous levels until after 2023,” the report said.

A survey carried out by the Bradford Institute for Health Research on the impact of Covid-19 on families in the Born in Bradford cohort, released in June, found 1 in 3 families are worried about the job security of the main earner; 1 in 4 are worried about paying the rent/mortgage; 1 in 4 couldn’t afford to buy the food they needed; 1 in 10 had severe financial and food insecurities, reporting being worried about losing their home and having to skip meals because there wasn’t enough food; 67 per cent of main earners who are self-employed and not working are worse off now than before the pandemic and  49 per cent of main earners who are furloughed are worse off now than before the Covid-pandemic.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council's Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “Covid-19 is clearly amplifying existing inequalities and disadvantage – not least because the people living in places hardest hit are more likely to be working in occupations and sectors most affected by the pandemic.

“The impact is going to be different in different places, so the recovery has to be locally led. If the Government is serious about its levelling up agenda, we hope they allow local areas to develop their own response with the appropriate resources to create jobs now and build a better future for places like Bradford and Keighley."

He added: “We know that getting our major projects like Bradford Live, Darley Street Market and One City Park up and running will make a huge difference to the prospects of the district and we’ve been working throughout lockdown to progress these.

“In addition to this we have set up our local economic recovery group which includes representatives from a range of sectors and will be working closely with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.”