COVID-19 impacts on destitution in the UK

Publication date: 29 Jul 2020 | Publication type: National Institute Economic Review | NIESR Author(s): Bhattacharjee, A; Lisauskaite, E | JEL Classification: E24; I32; C553; J82; L00; R11 | Journal: National Institute Economic Review Issue 253 | Publisher: Cambridge University Press

We use microsimulation combined with a model of the COVID-19 impacts on individuals and households to obtain projections of households in destitution in the United Kingdom. The projections are estimated at two levels: aggregate quarterly for the UK, for all quarters of 2020; and annual for 2020 differentiated by region, sector and household demographics. At the aggregate level, destitution is projected to be about three times higher than the non-COVID counterfactual level in 2020Q2, as well as substantially higher than the non-COVID case for the remainder of the year. This increased destitution is initially largely due to the effect on the self-employed, and as the Furlough scheme is drawn down, also on the unemployed. Impacts upon different regions and sectors vary widely, and so do variations across different household types. The sectors particularly affected are construction and manufacturing, while London and its closely connected regions (South East and the Midlands) are most severely affected. Single adult households suffer the most, and the adverse effects increase with number of children in the household. That the effects upon youth remain high is a particularly worrying sign, and very high increases in destitution are also projected for 25–54 year olds and the elderly (75 years and older). Further, severe adverse effects are projected for sections of society and the economy where multiple impacts are coincident. Robust and sustained mitigation measures are therefore required. 

Keyword tags: 
COVID-19 crisis