‘Significant job cuts still to come’ in York as unemployment almost triples

THE number of people in York claiming Job Seekers Allowance has almost tripled since the start of March, council documents have revealed.

An executive report shows that residents claiming out-of-work benefits has increased by 3,500 between February and June this year – “with significant further job losses to come”.

While the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance has almost tripled, from 180 to 530.

City of York Council also estimates that it faces a £20.4 million loss owing to the crisis – with a £16 million drop in income from council tax and business rates.

The report adds that the number of claimants seeking council tax support has increased by 29 per cent over the same period, adding: “It is likely that this represents the beginning of much larger increases, particularly at the point when the furlough scheme comes to an end.

“The scale of council tax and business rates income losses will require further savings to be identified over the next three to five years, over and above those already identified.

An early employment forecast by the local economic partnership predicted as many as 17,500 jobs could be lost in York due to the pandemic-while this was reduced to 8,500 following revised Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts.

However, the report does show how city centre footfall has risen by up to 70 per cent of normal levels and is continuing to rise – above the 50 per cent national average for high streets.

And, car parks closest to the city centre are averaging 80 per cent occupancy, “although the use of public transport is just a fraction of normal levels”.

The report shows that alfresco dining to aid social distancing has support from 62 per cent of those taking part in a survey.

It said: “Our car parks closest to the city centre are averaging 80 per cent occupancy, although the use of public transport is just a fraction of normal levels.

“The city centre is very reliant on visitors, with around two-thirds of customers normally coming from outside of York.The six-month tourism marketing strategy that we are now beginning with Make it York is also key to supporting the city centre economy.”

Executive member for economy and strategic planning, Cllr Andrew Waller, said: “A considerable amount of work has gone into reopening the city centre. Any job loss is a hit to a family and we will work hard to support the long term health of York’s economy. Whilst we continue to do all we can to support the city’s businesses, it’s clear that more financial help is urgently needed.

“That is why we are calling on the Government to back York and our city’s businesses to seize the opportunities in that would enable us to lead the recovery in our region.”

York Press | News