The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on our towns and cities

This report, published by the Centre for Towns in April 2020, analyses the impacts of Covid-19 on English and Welsh towns. It also identifies which towns might be more resilient to the pandemic, and hence better placed to recover from the crisis. Using a range of evidence, the report ranks places in terms of the economic impact of Covid-19, and their likely socio-economic resilience to the crisis. Coastal and ex-industrial towns are identified as particularly vulnerable.

Date added 5 November 2020
Last updated 5 November 2020

This Centre for Towns report analyses the impacts of Covid-19 on English and Welsh towns, exploring “...‘where’ the impact of COVID-19 is most likely to be felt” (p.5). The report also identifies which towns might be more resilient to the pandemic, and hence better placed for recovery. Using a wide range of evidence bases, the report ranks places in terms of the economic impact of Covid-19, and their likely socio-economic resilience to the crisis. In terms of economic impacts, the report identifies: lockdowns and business closures; reductions in consumer and business confidence; impact of illness on workforces; and increased demand on health and social care systems, as significant factors. With the accommodation, arts and leisure, non-food retail, and hospitality sectors identified as at particular economic risk, as are the towns dependent on these. Regarding the socio-economic resilience of places, the report identifies: ageing populations; social and economic wellbeing; social isolation; relative deprivation; and socio-economic change over time, as important factors. Based on a comprehensive analysis of the above factors, the report identifies coastal towns and ex-industrial towns as particularly vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic, due to issues around being dependent on at-risk sectors, social and economic wellbeing, and geographical isolation (coastal towns). As the report concludes:

"Whilst our major towns and cities have thus far borne the brunt of the pandemic in terms of the number of cases and deaths experienced by them, those places are better placed to recover economically. In contrast, many of our isolated coastal towns and ex-industrial towns are facing down both short- and long-term effects from COVID-19” (p.30).