In one way or another, the coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone. Some of us have lost loved ones. Others have lost jobs, or spent long weeks and months languishing on furlough.

For many of us, too, the restrictions have been tough to handle: not being able to see loved ones, go to the pub with friends, or head off for a much-needed holiday.

One thing that has become clear as the year has gone on, however, is that while the virus has affected us all it has hit the poorest among us the hardest.

That harsh fact is set out starkly in a ‘state of the nation’ report published by the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation earlier this year.

Even before the pandemic struck, the standard of living was falling fastest for people on the lowest incomes, the JRF report said. The Covid pandemic made that worse.

“People who were already trapped in poverty were particularly vulnerable to the financial shock caused by the pandemic due to their work being precarious or in sectors most affected by ongoing restrictions,” the report said.

It highlighted several key reasons for this:

l workers on the lowest incomes experienced the largest cut in hours at the start of the pandemic – for example, 81 per cent of people working in retail and accommodation saw their income drop.

l four in 10 workers on the minimum wage faced a high or very high risk of losing their jobs

l more than a third of single parents working in hospitality and over a quarter of those in retail were already living in poverty before their sectors were severely hit by restrictions.

l people living in rented homes were disproportionately affected - 35 per cent of private renters and 42 per cent of social renters were working in sectors hit hardest by Covid

l a shocking 45 per cent of disabled people who were in employment at the start of last year reported no earnings by the middle of the year.

l nationally, workers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds were 14 per cent more likely to be made unemployed and 13 per cent less likely to be furloughed.

Women, too, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In a blog posted earlier this month, senior JRF analyst Dr Dr. Andrea Barry wrote: “Before the pandemic, women were more likely to be stuck on low pay, more likely to be working in lower-paid sectors and lower-paid roles in higher-paid sectors, and trapped in underemployment due to childcare and transport barriers. Covid-19 has made this worse, as those lower-paid roles are the least likely to be allowed to work from home.”

JRF director Helen Barnard said: “It is a damning indictment of our society that those with the least suffered the most before the pandemic and are now being hit hardest once again. It’s unacceptable that certain groups are bearing the brunt of the economic impact of Covid.

“There are serious injustices we cannot put off tackling any longer.”