The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) revealed the areas most and least vulnerable to job losses caused by coronavirus, showing that those with a high proportion of jobs in hospitality, retail and tourism are most affected. The report found that Richmondshire in North Yorkshire, which contains Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Richmond constituency, tops the list of areas most at risk, with its large tourism and hospitality sectors meaning 35 percent of jobs are under threat.
Areas in the North and Midlands, the South West of England and parts of Scotland and Wales dominate the rest of the list.
But parts of the UK with the highest proportion of jobs in the knowledge economy, which can more easily be done from home, are said to be least at risk.
These are heavily concentrated in London, Oxbridge and the Home Counties, but even in these areas one in five jobs is put at high risk, according to the RSA.
Alan Lockey, head of the RSA future work centre, said: “No part of the country is going to be spared a severe recession, but those most dependent on hospitality and tourism will be particularly badly hit, especially rural areas, including many Tory shires.
“The government’s response so far has been robust and rightly focused on whole swathes of the population.
“But it must avoid going back to ‘business as usual’ – Universal Credit, sanctions and means-testing – if it’s to avoid the devastating impact of prolonged unemployment on whole swathes of the population.
Britain usually relies on migrant labour to gather crops, but at the moment farmers only have about one third of the usual workforce numbers at their disposal.
Speaking at Sunday’s Downing Street press briefing, Mr Eustice said UK staff would be needed to harvest crops at the start of summer.
He said: “We’re about to start the British season in fresh produce, in soft fruits and salads,” Mr Eustice said.
“We estimate that probably only about a third of the migrant labour that would normally come to the UK is here, and was probably here before lockdown.
“We are working with industry to identify an approach that will encourage those millions of furloughed workers in some cases to consider taking a second job, helping get the harvest in in June.
“It’s not an issue at the moment since the harvest has barely begun, but we do anticipate that there will be a need to recruit staff for those sectors in the month of June.”