Residents of African or Caribbean descent are far more likely to have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic than those of European descent, new research by one of the UK’s largest housing associations has found.
A survey of more than 1,000 Peabody residents found that those of African or Caribbean descent were less likely to be furloughed and 56% more likely to have lost their jobs during the crisis than those of European descent.
The rolling survey, which tracks the impact of COVID-19 on the 66,000-home landlord’s residents, also showed that 38% of working Peabody residents have lost their job, had their hours cut or been furloughed as a result of the crisis.
Since June, the proportion of residents on furlough has remained fairly static at 16%. However, the number of people who have lost their jobs has risen from 5% to 7% since June.
Of Peabody residents who have lost their jobs since lockdown, just 13% have since found new jobs.
When asked whether they were in a desperate financial situation, 18% of Peabody residents said they were, with those who had lost their jobs four times more likely to have answered ‘yes’ than those who had been furloughed.
The survey results come just as chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled today how the government plans to support people in work after its furlough scheme comes to an end. The Job Support Scheme, which will replace the furlough scheme, will see workers in “viable jobs” get three-quarters of their normal salaries for six months.
The Peabody report, which was carried out before the new measures were announced, found that 14% of residents feared someone in their household would lose their job in the coming months.
Peabody also analysed publicly available data to understand what impact the pandemic is having on low-income Londoners.
It found London is recovering from the initial lockdown period more slowly than the rest of the UK. The unemployment claimant count in London increased by 6.5% between June and August, compared to 5.3% across the UK as a whole.
Job vacancies in the capital are down 49% since lockdown began, compared with 34% in the rest of the country.
Brendan Sarsfield, chief executive at Peabody, said: “All the evidence points to widening inequality since March, which is only going to get worse without a change of plan. We need an emergency levelling up agenda within cities, as well as across regions, targeted sector-specific furlough, and more employment and training support for older people not eligible for the government’s Kickstart scheme.”
Scott Corfe, research director at the Social Market Foundation, which partnered Peabody on the research, added: “The latest economic data for London are worrying. Unemployment is continuing to rise and spreading beyond the young to older age groups, too.
“The government must pull out all the stops to save jobs. In practice, this means extending the Job Retention Scheme to protect workers in sectors most affected by the pandemic – such as hospitality and retail. We also need to get serious about providing reskilling opportunities to help equip people for the new jobs of the future.”