Covid-19 has been devasting for economies across the country. The economic support measures that we have put in place in Staffordshire as a partnership, alongside those made by government, have had a positive impact, but the next few months will be challenging.
Despite the challenges ahead, Staffordshire can still achieve its potential as a thriving powerhouse economy on the international stage by not just recovering, but renewing. Our five-year Economic Recovery and Renewal Strategy (2.4 MB) outlines how we will seek to make this happen. To effectively respond to those challenges we must all be able to see behind the headlines and understand the full picture - the monthly Economic Bulletin does just that.
Edition 14 (2.2 MB)
Welcome to the latest edition of the Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent Economic Bulletin produced by our Economy, Skills and Insight Teams, which provides the timeliest secondary data available on what is happening with the local economy. However, this clearly only provides part of the picture and we continue to build up our softer intelligence to provide a better indication of what is happening on the ground, including the local response to the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent recovery.
Alongside information on the Claimant Count and Job Vacancies that will be a part of every Bulletin, we look in more detail at the latest Government data regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) Furloughed Workers and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). This month’s issue also provides more detailed youth claimant count analysis and updated ward level analysis of the claimant count to help identify areas which have been impacted the hardest across Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent and where there may be a greater need for support. We also provide analysis of the latest business insolvency data to further understand how businesses have been impacted by COVID and the influence that Government measures have had on company and individual insolvencies.
We hope you find the Bulletin useful and welcome your comments and suggestions on further information you would like to see included in future editions. If you do have any feedback please send your comments to Darren Farmer, Economy & Skills Analyst at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director for Economy, Infrastructure and Skills, Staffordshire County Council
Key messages from edition 14
- This month we saw the UK exceed seven million confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and the end of self-isolation for the double-jabbed and under 18s.
- We have seen cases rise earlier in the month but latest data shows that infections are broadly flat. This is reflected in the R number which stands at 0.9 to 1.1 and a growth rate range for England of -2% to 2% per day. This means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 9 and 11 other people and that new infections could be shrinking by up to 2% every day or growing by up to 2% every day.
- Importantly having also seen a slower and smaller increase in hospitalisations latest figures show that the hospital admission rate of COVID-19-confirmed patients in England decreased to 7.02 per 100,000 people in the week ending 29 August 2021 compared to a peak of 36 per 100,000 during the previous wave. Rates decreased in six out of nine English regions.
- However, there has been a slight rise in deaths over recent weeks to levels not seen since March which is a concern.
- Around 4 in 5 adults are now fully vaccinated (80%) and 89% have had their first dose.
- The Government is concerned about cases being likely to increase sharply in England because children are returning to school and has signalled its intention to renew the Coronavirus Act later this autumn but there are no plans for a “firebreak” lockdown in October.
- The Chancellor has announced that the next Budget, along with the conclusions of the 2021 Spending Review, will be held on 27 October.
- UK Gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have grown for a fifth consecutive month in June 2021, by 1.0% driven mainly by services, but remains 2.2% below its pre-pandemic level (February 2020).
- The number of payroll employees showed another monthly increase, up 182,000 to 28.9 million in July 2021. However, it remains 201,000 below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels.
- The latest employment and unemployment estimates (April to June 2021) continue to show signs of recovery. there was a quarterly increase in the employment rate of 0.3 percentage points, to 75.1%, and a decrease in the unemployment rate of 0.2 percentage points, to 4.7%. The economic inactivity rate is down 0.2 percentage points on the previous quarter, to 21.1%.
- The UK inflation rate rose by 2.1% in the 12 months to July 2021, down from 2.4% in the 12 months to June 2021. Even with this fall caused by clothing and footware sales, inflation remains above the Bank of England’s target of 2% and if this remains persistent then interest rates could rise next year.
- We continue to hear reports of businesses having supply chain issues due to raw material shortages impacting turnover, particularly in manufacturing and construction, and recruitment challenges particularly social care workers and HGV drivers.
- Looking locally due to our strong position going into the crisis the number of people on some form of government job support scheme (including Universal Credit, Furlough and Self-employment Income Support) is estimated to be lower than the rest of the country, 10% compared to 11% nationally, and has decreased further over the last month as more workers on furlough and Universal Credit have returned to work.
- The claimant count in Staffordshire saw a further slight decrease of 75 claimants between June and July 2021 to a total of 21,140 claimants, which is a similar proportional decline seen regionally and nationally. While the claimant rate has also declined from 4.0% to 3.9% of the working age population in July and continues the trend seen since February. This reflects the continued easing of lockdown restrictions and the announced final easing of restrictions on the 19th July, allowing more businesses to fully reopen with more workers able to return to their place of work full-time and businesses looking to recruit more staff to support their recovery and growth.
- The proportion of young people aged 18-24 that are claiming Universal Credit currently stands at 6.0% compared to 3.7% in March 2020 and still well above the rate for the working age population. Encouragingly for the fourth month in a row Staffordshire has seen a decrease in the youth claimant count with a decline of 155 over the last month to a total of 3,895, reflective of more young people being able to return to work in hardest hit sectors such as retail and hospitality.
- The latest Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) figures show that there were 19,300 furloughed job claims in Staffordshire up to the end of July, showing a further decline of 3,100 furloughed workers in Staffordshire between June and July, equivalent to 5% of eligible workers which is lower than the regional and national averages of 6%. Stoke-on-Trent had 4,400 jobs still furloughed, showing a decline of 600 between June and July and equivalent to 4% of eligible jobs. We have seen the number of workers furloughed further decline over the last month while at the same time the claimant count has also declined, indicating that more people are returning to work, especially young people in hardest hit sectors. However, the concern remains as to how many of the significant number of workers still on furlough will be able to return to work between now and when the CJRS scheme ends at the end of September.
- Staffordshire has seen 8,600 self-employed workers claim for the fifth SEISS grant up to 15 August 2021 and a take-up rate of 22% for those eligible through the scheme, which is below the regional (23%) and national (24%) average take-up rates. Stoke-on-Trent had 2,800 SEISS claims up to 15 August 2021, equivalent to 27% of those eligible. There are concerns as to how many of these businesses will be viable and able to continue to operate after Government support is withdrawn.
- Overall numbers of company insolvencies in July 2021 increased by 13% compared to the same month last year but remain 24% lower than two years previously. This follows a similar trend seen since COVID emerged in March 2020 and will at least partly be due to government measures put in place in response to the pandemic. Concern regarding how many are viable without Government support.
- Following the significant increase in job vacancies witnessed over recent months the latest data for August shows a slight decrease on the previous month, potentially reflective of the vacancies being successfully filled at least in some sectors. Staffordshire saw vacancies decline by 2% between July and August equivalent to over 500 fewer job vacancies, this was slightly higher than the decline of 1% seen nationally. Stoke-on-Trent saw a drop of 4% with over 400 fewer vacancies in August compared to July.
- The occupations to see the most significant increases during August were roles in sectors experiencing recruitment difficulties and sectors which have been able to open up further due to reduced restrictions and occupations which support them including social care, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, construction, and logistics.
- Funding is still available to support your business' recovery from the pandemic through the Staffordshire Means Back to Business Programme - whether you're a start-up, small business or self-employed. And now there's opportunities to get advice from digital technology experts, get involved in the HS2 project and get the support you need from business mentors.
- Alongside this there is support available through the Growth Hub and we have our start-up schemes and the Redundancy and Recruitment Triage Service.
- To ensure residents have access to the support needed to find employment there are several employment and skills programmes which they can access including the Kickstart Scheme and Restart Scheme.
- In conclusion, we continue to see signs of recovery in the economy with most restrictions now lifted allowing more businesses to reopen and bring back workers. However, the virus is still spreading so there remains the need to be cautious in getting back to the ‘new normal’ to help prevent further increases in cases. Clearly there are also concerns regarding the imminent phasing out of Government support such as furlough and ongoing issues regarding business and consumer confidence which will need to be addressed in order to create a stronger business environment for economic recovery and growth. There is also the need to address increasing skills and labour supply issues which are holding back business growth and innovation. Achieving full vaccination of the population is key to being able to effectively live with the virus and preventing further disruption and damage to the economy.
- As the vaccines continue to be provided to the general population it is vital that additional support such as the Additional Restrictions Grant and Staffordshire Means Back to Business Programme is utilised to help businesses transition to new business models including diversification and digitisation to improve their viability and sustainability. Alongside this the Restart Scheme has an important role to play in ensuring that local residents have the skills and training needed within the local economy to support increased growth, productivity and prosperity. Reskilling and upskilling residents from declining sectors into priority growth areas of the economy such as digital, green, advanced manufacturing, advanced logistics, construction, and health and social care will be key.
Edition 1 (1.63 MB)
Edition 2 (996 KB)
Edition 3 (987 KB)
Edition 4 (1.1 MB)
Edition 5 (1.2 MB)
Edition 6 (1.1 MB)
Edition 7 (1.6 MB)
Edition 8 (1.4 MB)
Edition 9 (2.1 MB)
Edition 10 (1.6 MB)
Edition 11 (2 MB)
Edition 12 (2 MB)
Edition 13 (1.55 MB)