Glasgow City Council assess the impact of coronavirus

“This is tough, there’s no point trying to sugar coat it.”

Early estimates show up to 100,000 jobs could be lost across the Glasgow city region as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Early estimates show up to 100,000 jobs could be lost across the Glasgow city region as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is predicted women, the young and those on low wages will be “greatly impacted” by the economic fall-out.

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Council leader Susan Aitken has admitted to having sleepless nights over the “extremely sobering” and “scary” prediction but vowed the city will recover.

She said after the pandemic the UK Government cannot return to austerity.

“We, of all cities, have had to come back from serious trauma before,” the council chief added. “This is the biggest for a generation but we will, I am confident that we will.”

Modelling by the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde shows the drop in the economy could lead to between 60,000 and 100,000 job losses, with industries such as construction, wholesale and retail hit hard.

It has been stressed these figures, revealed in a presentation to Glasgow’s Covid-19 recovery group, are “regional projections based on national analysis” and the impact within industries will vary across the country. Firmer evidence is expected in a couple of months.

Ms Aitken, who emphasised there are still a lot of unknowns, said the pandemic was set to have a “bigger impact” than the global financial crisis in 2008.

The Fraser of Allander Institute’s presentation stated employees under 25 are “about two and a half times” as likely to work in a sector that has now shut down as other employees while women are “about one third more likely to work in a sector that is now shut down than men”.

The quickly-assembled Covid-19 recovery team, which has representatives from the public, private, academic and third sectors, met for the first time on Thursday.

Ms Aitken said there was a ‘Team Glasgow’ approach with members pulling together instead of looking out for their own sector.

She said third sector representatives ensured the group’s focus was on the impact on communities, saying the “fundamental reason” she wants a thriving economy is to deliver social objectives, such as reducing inequality and closing the skills gap.

“First and foremost the key to recovery is people in Glasgow and giving them the confidence to be able to return to life,” Ms Aitken added.

Temporary measures to support physical distancing, including closing Kelvin Way to traffic and widening Clyde Street and the Broomielaw, could be made permanent if they’re well-received.

Ms Aitken said an issue which had been a political aspiration was now a “public health necessity”.

She said if people like the changes then there’s no reason why they can’t become the “new normal” and emphasised it’s not just about cyclists, thousands of people with disabilities in Glasgow would benefit from the extra space.

The council leader also claimed it was “too early to say” what the financial impact would be on the city council, which faced a spending gap of around £40m at budget time in February.

“A lot relies on the UK Government,” she added. “They have demonstrated austerity was a political choice.

“This is tough, there’s no point trying to sugar coat it. We’ve been asked to do a lot by the government with not a lot of resources – and we are doing that.”

With Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing a number of coronavirus support schemes, Ms Aitken said: “The very strong message from local government is don’t turn the taps off now.”

She added austerity was “never good” but would be “disastrous” if it returned. “It would destroy communities and push households into poverty.”

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