EASTBOURNE’S economy has been described as ‘particularly vulnerable’ by the borough council.

A report before Cabinet tonight warns: “The borough’s economy has been identified as particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19.

“This is due to its high reliance on the visitor economy, particularly a predominance of employment in the accommodation, food and drink, arts and entertainment, leisure and retail sectors.”

The report says:

“June figures showed 11,500 employees (around 29.5% of those in employment) were furloughed in the Borough, representing 19.5% of furloughed staff in East Sussex.

Eastbourne Borough employment accounts for 14.4% of the total employed within East Sussex.

The latest claimant figures (for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and Universal Credit in the searching for work category) show that Eastbourne has had an increase of claimants by 102.2% from March, with the claimant count now at 4,540 compared to 2,245 previously.

Financial uncertainty, cash flow challenges and unknown customer demand have caused a lack of business confidence in their long-term survival.

While business confidence has increased following the government announcements that retail and hospitality businesses can reopen, many are still temporarily closed or operating at a reduced capacity.

The high streets will continue to face a very challenging period, with consumer confidence taking time to return and national surveys are indicating that a high percentage of visitors will not be returning immediately, instead waiting until a future time when they feel safe and ready to do so.”