One third of Essex population furloughed or relying on Universal Credit

By Local Democracy Reporter Piers Meyler

AROUND one third of the Essex population are on furlough or universal credit due to Covid-19, it has been revealed.

Data from Essex County Council (ECC) has shown that there were 40,000 newly unemployed workers and 216,000 furloughed workers in greater Essex at the end of May – that works out as approximately 29 per cent of all employed residents.

In response, ECC say they are developing a “robust plan” for what we can do in the short, medium and long-term to create jobs and support the economy to recover in Essex.

Key to the plan is restarting tourism – which prior to the Covid-19 pandemic was worth £3.4 billion to the county’s economy – helped through the recently launched Great Adventures, Close to Home campaign, which will run for ten weeks and provide information on what is open as well as the best times of day and safest way for people to visit.

In the longer term, Visit Essex are working with their Chair Councillor Durham using knowledge built from the two online conferences they have hosted during lockdown.

Visit Essex have also involved tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston MP to identify the support that the tourism economy needs in Essex and will build this into the economic recovery plan being developed by the Council.

They are also working with Kent and East Sussex County Councils to try to source funding from SELEP to support tourism across the South East.

Tony Ball, ECC cabinet member for finance, said: “With roughly a third of the Essex population claiming universal credit or on furlough there is an enormous challenge facing all of us.

“We know that having a job is more important than just earning money.

“Having a job is the best way to improve health outcomes and lift communities out of deprivation which is why the Essex economy is our number one priority – not only to provide jobs but to provide healthier futures for our residents.

“So we need to focus on kills and jobs matching, focus on our institutions and our anchor local economies.

“We need to focus on green growth and accelerating construction and focusing on marketing Essex to make Essex the best place to study, live work and invest.”

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