Since March, unemployment levels in the borough’s working age population have shot up from 6% to 9% with the largest rise in those aged 18-24.
Over the same period, there has been a 10% fall in job vacancies and 16,000 residents are currently on furlough schemes, many of which are in high-risk sectors.
In coming months, the picture is likely to worsen as Government support streams are withdrawn, businesses experience cash flow problems and school leavers enter a labour market with fewer jobs.
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“The [economic recovery] plan will outline the measures that we will take to raise the prosperity of all of our residents by continuing to create an economic environment that attracts and boosts opportunities for residents, students, businesses, investors and visitors,” cabinet member for regeneration and economy, Cllr John Anglin, said.
“The recovery plan will align with the regional recovery work that is currently being undertaken by the North East Economic Recovery Response Group.
“And it will clearly set out the key interventions that we will need to implement to foster a sustainable, green and inclusive recovery while having a pragmatic list of ready-to-go projects and clear asks of both the Local Enterprise Partnership and the Government.”
Cllr Anglin was speaking at Wednesday’s (July 15) cabinet meeting which was held remotely and broadcast live on YouTube.
The council boss said the plan was developed in light of the “potentially devastating economic impact” Covid-19 could have locally.
Work carried out so far has included measuring the economic impact of Covid-19, identifying trends, challenges and opportunities arising out of the pandemic and establishing themed groups to map out actions needed to aid recovery.
A total of six ‘task and finish groups’ will cover the following areas:
:: Employment and Skills – reducing youth unemployment and mechanisms for retraining and upskilling.
:: Town Centres and Visitor Economy – reshaping high streets and boosting arts, culture and the visitor economy.
:: Business and Climate Change – growing low-carbon and manufacturing sectors and supporting start-ups and investors.
:: Digital – boosting digital infrastructure and engagement.
:: Infrastructure – transport schemes that unlock manufacturing, housing growth and sustainable transport.
:: Housing, Regeneration and Healthy Places -transformational schemes and efforts to reduce poverty and homelessness.
The work of these groups will form the final version of South Tyneside’s economic recovery plan which will return to cabinet in September for sign-off.
Local stakeholders, including the business community, Nexus and the Port of Tyne, will also be consulted on the plan.
Leader of South Tyneside Council, Cllr Iain Malcolm, said the response in the plan aimed to help the borough out of “some of the worst excesses of Covid-19.”
Speaking at cabinet this week, he said: “One of the most important [actions] of course is creating new job opportunities.
“As Cllr Anglin outlined, unemployment is hitting our young people quite hard during the crisis and we need to do as much as we can to support them.”