Edinburgh will be the UK city least impacted economically by the Covid-19 pandemic, a new report has predicted, while Glasgow will take the hardest hit of any in Scotland.
Glasgow is expected to see its economy shrink by 10.4 per cent in 2020, according to today’s Good Growth for Cities report produced by accountancy group PwC and the Demos think tank. The average annual economic growth rate for all Scottish cities is projected at -9.7%, compared to the UK average rate of -11.0%.
Edinburgh is expected to see its economy shrink by 9.1 per cent – the least severe impact of any UK city – which researchers attributed to its sectoral mix and relatively low case rate. However, in common with other cities that held up better in 2020, the Scottish capital is also expected to be among the slowest to recover.
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Looking to the year ahead, Aberdeen’s economy is predicted to grow by 4.1%, and Glasgow’s by 4.6%. With 3.9% growth forecast, Edinburgh will be one of the slowest cities to recover.
The Good Growth for Cities Index ranks 42 of the UK’s largest cities based on the public’s assessment of 10 key economic wellbeing factors, including jobs, health, income and skills, as well as work-life balance, house affordability, travel-to-work times, income equality, environment and business start-ups.
The analysis took into account a city’s sectoral make-up, the impact of the use of the furlough scheme to protect jobs, and the rates of Universal Credit claims and Covid-19 infections to project the economic gross value added (GVA) rates for 2020 and 2021.
The report finds that UK cities and towns hardest hit by the economic fallout from the pandemic are likely to make the fastest recovery, but will still be worse off than at the beginning of the pandemic when compared to more resilient places.
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While there will be bounce-back for those hit hardest, recovery will not necessarily instigate an increase in economic activity. This will leave low-performing cities worse off than prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
The report calls for the UK’s recovery to look beyond national GDP and double-down on efforts to address the individual challenges facing towns and cities to level-up inequalities.
“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on existing economic and social inequalities,” said Stewart Wilson, government and health industries leader at PwC Scotland. “This reinforces the view that when the post-pandemic recovery begins in earnest, we must look beyond GDP and focus our collective efforts on tackling issues that really matter to the public, and their local economies, such as skilling, sustainable income and health and wellbeing.
“We need an approach which takes into account the strengths and needs of individual towns and cities to build more resilience and drive a fair recovery across the UK.”