Remote working at current pandemic-levels could see a £15.3bn hit to the UK’s GDP each year, according to new data from PwC.
Of this, £12.1bn would come from lower consumer spending. The resulting reduction in the clustering of economic activity (less networking and interactions) could decrease GDP across England and Wales by a further £3.2bn. To put this in perspective it is equivalent to 250,000 jobs a year.
While smaller sites like Bradford, Wigan and Blackpool could benefit from increased home working, it is unlikely to outweigh the negative effects on larger cities like London, Manchester and Liverpool.
The average weekly spend by an office worker is expected to fall from £416 in February to £404 in August and September, with the largest reductions in spending coming from higher income groups.
PwC’s chief economist, Jonathan Gilham, said: “A blend of office and home working is the best way to help cushion our economy as the furlough scheme draws to a close – getting more people back to offices safely is critical. The UK is a services-based economy that’s powered on people coming together face-to-face.”