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How do Covid-19 cases and benefit claims compare at the local level?

The pandemic highlights the links between public health and the economy. The combined damage to people’s health, jobs and incomes could disproportionately affect areas that were struggling even before the crisis, many of which experienced localised lockdowns.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to confront something we already knew. People’s health, education, housing, income and wealth are all strongly interconnected and these links result in pronounced inequalities. These disparities persist across generations and across the geography of the UK. The pandemic is only likely to amplify them.

Maps help illustrate the overlaps between the health and economic effects of the crisis. Many areas that were already struggling before the pandemic are being hit the hardest. The blue-shaded map shows total coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants up to mid October. The red-shaded map shows the percentage point increase in the benefit claimant rate over the year to September. Right now, many urban areas in the North are experiencing both the highest increases in cases and in the number of people losing their jobs and moving on to benefits. And while coastal areas of the country have, at least to date, been hit lightly in terms of cases, they are feeling the economic pinch, as are areas in and around London due to the drop in footfall in the capital.

The effects of the pandemic on people’s health will have implications for their future employment and income, and job loss will have consequences for people’s future health.

Total recorded coronavirus cases per 100,000 population

Map showing total recorded coronavirus cases per 100,000

Percentage point increase in Claimant Count rate September 2019 to September 2020

Map showing percentage point increase in claimant count rate

Data sources: Coronavirus in the UK ( and Office for National Statistics
Author: Helen Simpson (University of Bristol)
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