End of lockdown did little for incomes of UK’s hardest-hit: study

People walk past a closed shop following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Chester, Britain
FILE PHOTO: People walk past a closed shop following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Chester, Britain, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

November 15, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – The lifting of the first COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year did little to improve the incomes of people in Britain who lost out from the restrictions, and lower-earning households have borne the brunt of the hit, a think tank said on Sunday.

With unemployment on the rise in Britain, the proportion of adults reporting a drop in incomes improved only slightly to 23% between July and September from 27% in the April-June period, the Resolution Foundation said in a report.

Three-in-ten of the adults who took a sustained income hit were unable to afford some basic household costs such as heating and fresh fruit and vegetables, the report said.

“The government should strengthen the social safety net that more families are coming to rely upon,” Karl Handscomb, an economist at the Resolution Foundation, said.

Adults in highest 20% income band, or an average of 64,000 pounds ($84,400) a year, were more likely to have seen their family budgets improve than deteriorate from before the pandemic as many managed to save more.

By contrast, low-income households on 13,000 pounds a year were more than twice as likely to have seen their budgets deteriorate.

The report was based on a survey of 6,061 adults between Sept. 17 and 22.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a new, month-long lockdown for England which is due to end on Dec. 2. Other parts of the United Kingdom are also under coronavirus restrictions.

(Writing by William Schomberg, Editing by Hugh Lawson)