A new report, published today, reveals the wide-ranging and variable economic impact of Covid-19 on the lives of people across the UK.
The UK economy during Covid-19: Insights from the Bank of England's Citizens' Panels captures the learnings from discussions at 22 virtual events involving more than 1,000 members of the public from August 2020 to July 2021.
The Bank launched its Citizens' Panel programme in 2018 giving people the chance to air views directly to senior officials about economic issues. As part of the programme it runs a number of regional panels which are used to help policymakers better understand how the economy is performing in different parts of the UK. Professor Fiona Devine, Head of Alliance Manchester Business School, is Chair of the Citizens' Panel for the North West.
Dealing with the crisis
The report details how participants at the events shared how the pandemic had affected their incomes, ways of working, and patterns of consumption. And how their confidence in the economic outlook varied over the year as news developed about the pandemic, and the measures taken to combat it. Deep concern was expressed about the unequal impact of the crisis on people across employment sectors, ages, and social backgrounds.
Panellists also shared their day-to-day experiences of the economy during the pandemic, as well as their hopes for a more inclusive post-pandemic economy. They also had the opportunity to question the Bank's Governors and Executive Directors about the decisions taken by the Bank to support the economy.
The report, written by the independent local Chairs of the Citizens' Panels, also addresses topics including Brexit, the housing market, the future of cities, climate change, and changes to the way we pay for goods and services.
Ruth Marks, Chief Executive of WCVA and Chair of the panel from Wales, said: "While the pandemic was first and foremost a health crisis, it is clear that the economic impact of Covid-19 has also been deep and wide-ranging. What is also particularly striking is the unevenness of that impact, which risks further deepening existing levels of inequality within the regions and nations that took part in the panel sessions. It was really helpful to reach beyond the economic data and media headlines to refine our understanding of the economic landscape."
Welcoming the publication of the report, the Bank's Governors said: "Citizens' Panels play an important part in the Bank of England's engagement with the public. These human stories complement and inform the Bank's economic analysis, intelligence gathering by the agents, and the policymaking process."
The Bank is continuing to recruit Citizens' Panel members to take part in future events. To register, visit www.bankofengland.co.uk/get-involved/citizens-panels