Young people have lost out the most from the initial national lockdown and other restrictions, according to new data from NatWest Group.

On average, around one in five (21%) residents in Britain has experienced an income fall of 20 per cent or more. Young people across the country have been disproportionately impacted, with 27 per cent experiencing significant income falls.

The data is being published as the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) think tank, in partnership with NatWest Group, launches a research project exploring what government and businesses can do to strengthen and support local communities in the wake of Covid-19.

This major new research will put the spotlight on the role of local communities in providing fulfilling places to live and work, as well as supporting those who are struggling most. In consulting with the public and businesses – including bank customers – as well as local leaders, it will highlight ways of strengthening the next generation’s sense of community and make recommendations to government early next year.

The new figures from NatWest also reveal a big shift in spending patterns under the lockdown.

Britain’s towns and smaller cities have seen the biggest rise in residents’ spending on debit cards during 2020 – up over 30 per cent in certain parts of the north of England, Scotland and Wales.

Card spending on highly local services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, has grown by over 30 per cent in some areas, whereas large cities like London and Edinburgh have seen spending on these services fall by over 20 per cent. Meanwhile, spending on eating out is up 5 per cent in Britain’s towns, but down 11 per cent for London.

These figures reflect the significant switch away from spending with cash to spending on cards as a result of the initial national lockdowns but also suggest changes to the way people are spending their money as many increasingly work from home or move back to their local communities.

NatWest Group Chief Executive, Alison Rose, said “We are living in a period of unprecedented disruption. The coming years will bring sweeping changes to the way we live and work and will radically reshape our communities.”

“Covid-19 has exacerbated these challenges and opportunities. Existing trends are accelerating and new ones emerging. The solutions require a collaborative response from government, businesses and communities, in particular to ensure our young people have every opportunity to succeed.”

As a bank that champions potential by building deeper relationships with our customers, we are focused on meeting the evolving needs of the communities we serve. By breaking down the barriers to success, we will help people, families and businesses to rebuild and thrive.’

“I am proud that NatWest Group is working with the Centre for Social Justice on this important piece of research to deliver meaningful change.”

Andy Cook, Chief Executive of the CSJ, said “The CSJ was founded on a belief in the importance of relationships and support at the community level. We commend NatWest’s vital work on community building and hope to produce a stellar report on the subject in early 2021.”

“Unless Government and business acts, Britain’s young people are on the verge of catastrophe. The lockdown measures of 2020, although they have saved lives, cannot be isolated from economic, social and community concerns.’

“The first lockdown saw a positive wave of community action and support for local businesses. We want to build on this by strengthening local level communities through Covid-19 and beyond.”