A business confidence survey by the ICEAW shows that in the East of England year-on-year recent sales are down only 0.5%. This is better than all other UK regions. However, business outlook remains negative.
Unemployment in Hertfordshire is estimated to be 37,000 in October which is nearly three times higher than in October 2019. St Albans has relatively low unemployment whereas Broxbourne and Watford are above the national average.
Key issues reported by local businesses are reducing customer demand and late payment. These issues are across all business sizes and not just small business.
Looking ahead, the Bank of England is forecasting a recovery to pre-Covid levels in 12 to 18 months.
To protect and support local business we need to shop locally, prevent office to residential conversion and think carefully about the requirements of business in the Local Plan. We also need to encourage spin-offs from key sectors of strength in Hertfordshire such as life sciences and creative industries.
Generally, mobile and broadband infrastructure needs to be improved to support high levels of home working that is expected to continue after Covid.
We support local business and community leaders who have identified that inclusive growth is critical and especially for young people who have been disproportionally affected by Covid. This is likely to include, training, apprenticeships, internships and improving links with schools to provide pathways into local industry.