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11 Apr 2023

The Covid-19 years in facts and figures

The Covid-19 years in facts and figures

The pandemic caused personal and industrial chaos, but as we emerge from the ashes, what have we found out, and where is it leading us?

It seems like we’ve lived with Covid-19 for a lifetime, but it’s only been three years since it reached our shores. In fact, the number of cases of Covid in the UK only peaked on 5 January last year, when the daily infection count hit 275,646 on the dial. That extraordinary number is dwarfed by the total number of Covid infections in the UK, which as of writing stands at 24,448,729. 

It’s impossible to ignore the tragic scale of personal loss and human suffering caused by the virus, but it’s also important to study how Covid has impacted the business community and consequently individuals in the working population, as well as the financial cost to our community. So, as we move past the third anniversary of our first acquaintance with the virus, there are some extremely interesting figures to mull over.

The once peculiar sounding Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was created to deal with the immediate impact of lockdowns on a paralysed UK workforce. The scheme applied from 1 March 2020 and ended on 30 September 2021, and provided grants to employers so they could retain staff for post-pandemic days by furloughing these employees at up to 80% of their wages, although various caps applied. In total 11.7 million employees were furloughed at a cost of an eye-watering £70 billion.

The Week recently reported that at the height of the first national lockdown, UK GDP “fell by a record 19.4% before rebounding 17.6% as the country reopened over the summer”. Furthermore, according to the Office for National Statistics there was an unprecedented level of change in GDP not seen “since ONS measurements began in 1955”.

Pubs, restaurants, and accommodation services were particularly badly affected, and made the highest overall value of claims totalling £12.87 billion.

But the whole picture shows that out of 3,860,831 active companies in the UK, 650,463 (17%) received furlough funding. The aftermath witnessed a lamentable roll call of 54,011(1.4%) active companies folding up after receiving furlough.

Another revealing statistic surrounding the post-pandemic workforce is that there are now almost 400,000 more economically inactive adults aged 50 to 64 than during those pre-Covid days. James Reed, CEO and chair of recruitment firm Reed, predicts that 2023 will most likely see the return of some of these vastly experienced workers, which will give all surviving businesses an enormous boost in knowledge and skill sets.

There are also some interesting figures rooted in the middle of the pandemic, about what we now widely recognised as a pivotal change in our working practices. The most immediate consequence of lockdown was the proportion of people who reported that they were working exclusively at home. This rose from 5.7% of workers in January and February of 2020 to 43.1% by April of the same year. 

And in a positive sign for the future survival of the office workspace, 48% of at home workers reported the need to communicate more to demonstrate their value, while 60% said that they felt less connected to colleagues. 

This simple and very human dimension to how efficiently we function at work, has led to a hybrid mix of at-home and in-office employee presence. It therefore comes as no great surprise that the Office for National Statistics reported that in the most recent period (25 January to 5 February 2023) around 40% of working adults reported having worked from home at some point in the past seven days. 

This hybrid model looks like it’s here to stay, and the resulting new balance of home and workplace satisfaction can only benefit all employers and employees. After enduring so many negatives over the last three years, there is at least one tangible positive to emerge. 

To book a free demo of mnAi’s data platform – where you can access business data relating to Covid-19 – click here