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Easing of Coronavirus restrictions

Economic bulletin

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.

Latest edition

Edition 11 (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 darren.farmer@staffordshire.gov.uk.

Stay Safe,

Darryl Eyers

Director for Economy, Infrastructure and Skills, Staffordshire County Council

Key messages from edition 11

  • In early May COVID-19 cases in England reached the lowest level since last August, however over recent weeks we have seen the number of infections increase due mainly to the emergence of the Delta variant (first identified in India), although rates remain low.
  • Hospital admissions of COVID-19 confirmed patients remain low but are rising in some areas and deaths involving COVID-19 have decreased with some days seeing no deaths announced.
  • More than three quarters of England’s adult population have now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over half are now fully vaccinated with protection and sentiment remaining high.
  • We have seen continued progress on the Government roadmap out of lockdown and the opening up of more parts of society and the economy through the easing of restrictions including indoor hospitality.
  • Although there are clear concerns regarding the more transmissible Delta variant and how it may impact further easing of the lockdown, with the number of cases rising rapidly and the Delta variant now the dominant variant in the UK.
  • In terms of the ongoing economic impact from the pandemic, UK Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.1% in March, the fastest monthly growth since August 2020, and follows a 0.7% increase in February.
  • The Bank of England has also stated that the UK economy will enjoy its fastest growth in more than 70 years in 2021 as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, with the economy expected to grow by 7.25% this year which follows a contraction of 9.9% in 2020 the biggest in 300 years.
  • As well as the economy growing, the UK's unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.8% in the three months to March, down from 4.9% in February. The Bank of England is now expecting the unemployment rate to peak at 5.5% later this year, which is far below the 7.75% it predicted in February. It is expected that extra Government spending such as the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of September, a stronger recovery, and an assumption that the long-term damage from the pandemic will be smaller than previously expected will all help limit job losses.
  • 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, 16% compared to 19% nationally, and has decreased slightly over the last month as more workers on furlough and Universal Credit have returned to work.
  • The Universal Credit claimant count in Staffordshire saw an decrease of 395 claimants between March and April 2021 to a total of 24,960 claimants and the claimant rate has remained at 4.7% of the working age population in April compared to 7.3% regionally and 6.5% nationally.. This provides further indication that the impact of the latest lockdown on businesses and jobs may be easing, with more workers able to return to their place of work full-time and businesses which previously faced restrictions now able to operate more fully again and looking to recruit more staff.
  • Young people, women and the lowest paid continue to feel the biggest impact. From March 2020 to April 2021 the proportion of young people claiming Universal Credit increased considerably with just under 5,000 young people in Staffordshire now claiming Universal Credit representing 7.5% of 18-24 year olds..
  • The latest Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) figures show that there were 40,500 furloughed job claims in Staffordshire up to the end of April, showing a decline of 9,700 furloughed workers in Staffordshire between March and April and equivalent to 11% of eligible workers, which is in-line with the regional and national averages. Stoke-on-Trent had 10,200 jobs still furloughed, showing a decline of 3,400 between March and April and equivalent to 9% 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 are returning to work as we continue to move out of lockdown. 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 19,100 self-employed workers claim for the fourth Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant up to 9th May 2021 and a take-up rate of 48% for those eligible through the scheme, slightly lower than the regional and national average take-up rates (both 50%). Stoke-on-Trent had 5,800 SEISS claims up to 9th May 2021, equivalent to 55% 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 April 2021 were 23% lower compared to the same month last year and 35% 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.
  • As reflected in the claimant count, the impact of the third lockdown on recruitment also continued to eased in April and May with a further uplift in job vacancies as more businesses in the hardest hit sectors of hospitality and retail reopened, Staffordshire saw vacancies increase by 9% between April and May, equivalent to over 2,100 more job vacancies, which was just below the 10% rise seen nationally. Stoke-on-Trent also saw a rise of 9% with 763 more vacancies in May compared to April. This significant improvement in recruitment has seen vacancy levels rise to around 47% higher than those seen prior to COVID in the SSLEP area and well above the 27% growth seen nationally.
  • The occupations to see the most significant increases during May were roles in sectors which have been able to open up further due to reduced restrictions and the sectors which support them including hospitality, retail and logistics. There has also been a further increase in demand for roles in the care sector where there have been ongoing recruitment difficulties prior to and throughout the crisis including ‘care workers and home carers’ and ‘primary and nursery education teaching professionals’.
  • Businesses continue to have access to a wide range of local support to aid the recovery including the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Business Loan Fund and the new £5m Staffordshire Means Back to Business Support Scheme which includes an investment to cover the costs for up to 500 apprentices, a training top-up fund for businesses to upskill their employees, a grants scheme to enable small businesses to thrive.
  • 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, it is apparent that as we continue to move out of lockdown and restrictions are eased the economic impact to some businesses and jobs particularly in hardest hit sectors such as hospitality and retail continues to reduce. It is clear that Government and local support in particular the furlough scheme continues to have a vital role in helping businesses to survive and stave off further job losses. Alongside this the increasing speed and success of the vaccination programme rollout continues to be a major step in the right direction to reducing further impacts and accelerating the recovery.
  • 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 thatlocal 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.

Earlier editions

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)

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