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Young people ‘hit hardest by national lockdown’

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Young people lost out the most from the first national lockdown and subsequent restrictions, according to data from NatWest.

The bank partnered with think tank the Centre for Social Justice to compile a major piece of research about the effects of lockdown.

It found that, on average, about one in five (21%) Brits has experienced an income fall of 20% or more. But young people across the country have been disproportionately impacted, with 27% experiencing significant income falls.

The Centre for Social Justice and NatWest Group are launching a research project exploring what government and businesses can do to strengthen and support local communities in the wake of Covid-19.

This new research will put the spotlight on the role of local communities in providing fulfilling places to live and work, as well as supporting those who are struggling most.

In consulting with the public and businesses as well as local leaders, it plans to highlight ways of strengthening the next generation’s sense of community and make recommendations to government early next year.

The research published today also reveal a big shift in spending patterns under the lockdown.

Britain’s towns and smaller cities have seen the biggest rise in residents’ spending on debit cards during 2020 – up more than 30% in some parts of the north of England, Scotland and Wales.

Card spending on local services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, has grown by more than 30% in some areas, whereas large cities like London and Edinburgh have seen spending on these services fall by more than 20%.

Meanwhile, spending on eating out is up 5% in Britain’s towns, but down 11% for London.

These figures reflect the significant switch away from spending with cash to spending on cards as a result of lockdown but also suggest changes to the way people are spending their money as many increasingly work from home or move back to their local communities.

Alison Rose, NatWest Group chief executive, said: “We are living in a period of unprecedented disruption. The coming years will bring sweeping changes to the way we live and work and will radically reshape our communities.

“Covid-19 has exacerbated these challenges and opportunities. Existing trends are accelerating and new ones emerging. The solutions require a collaborative response from government, businesses and communities, in particular to ensure our young people have every opportunity to succeed.

As a bank that champions potential by building deeper relationships with our customers, we are focused on meeting the evolving needs of the communities we serve. By breaking down the barriers to success, we will help people, families and businesses to rebuild and thrive.

Andy Cook, chief executive of the Centre for Social Justice, said: “Unless government and business acts, Britain’s young people are on the verge of catastrophe. The lockdown measures of 2020, although they have saved lives, cannot be isolated from economic, social and community concerns.

“The first lockdown saw a positive wave of community action and support for local businesses. We want to build on this by strengthening local level communities through Covid-19 and beyond.”