The north faces a ‘triple whammy’ as a result of the Covid crisis, the Bishop of Newcastle has warned.
Speaking in her role as chair of the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) Inclusive Economy Board, the Right Reverend Christine Hardman said the region had been one of the worst hit by coronavirus due to having a large number of elderly people, high job losses, and many vulnerable children.
Recovery efforts must focus on creating opportunities for young people and more well paid, secure jobs, Bishop Christine said.
A study of English local authorities by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found different areas suffered different problems as a result of Covid-19, owing to the age of their populations and the way their economies were structured.
Areas with an ageing population, a high number of vulnerable young people, and an economy reliant on shopping and tourism would feel the worst effects. Areas with fewer older people, that were less reliant on “shut-down” sectors like retail and hospitality, and with fewer families with vulnerable children suffered less.
Bishop Christine said: “What we are seeing is a health impact, a social impact, and an economic impact. Most areas have been severely impacted by just one of these things but we have been hit by all three; a triple whammy.”
Researchers warned recovery would require a sophisticated package of aid and support to revive different areas with different types of problems.
The NTCA Inclusive Economy Board will play a key role in steering the economic recovery of the North of Tyne, with a mandate to make Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland a better place for people seeking new or better work, and those aiming to return or get into work for the first time.
Formed in March, it includes key figures from the private, public and voluntary and community Sectors.
Bishop Christine said the board would focus on two courses of action. “The first is to provide opportunities for our young people aged between 16 and 24-years-old, offering hope, the possibility of education or apprenticeships or development,” she said.
“The second is to look at providing good work – work with secure conditions and a good wage – for all kinds of people of all ages. We are doing this by bringing together the most wonderful group of people to be members of this board; people with real expertise and experience.
“This means residents, because the people who live here have real expertise, people from public life, civic life, businesses and also people from the national scene who can offer real expertise in how to go about this. Everybody is contributing; we are working together.”
NTCA Cabinet Member for Employability and Inclusion and Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council Cllr Joyce McCarty said: “The coronavirus crisis has had a deep and profound impact on all our residents, communities and businesses.
“Every day we are seeing an increased pressure on people’s jobs and livelihoods and it is vital that we continue to listen to them, to understand their situations and to work with them.
“We must all come together to make sure the skills and training on offer in the region helps our residents maximise on opportunities that are available and are being created, this includes our vision of a new green economy and the employment that will create.
‘The Inclusive Economy Board is a great example of how we can bring together expertise and energy from a range of organisations to help us achieve this goal. We will focus on opportunities for people aged 16 – 24 and good, high quality jobs for everyone.”
The NTCA is part of the North East Covid-19 Economic Response Group, which has announced a staged plan for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The Inclusive Economy Board will help shape and enable this inclusive, economic recovery for the region.