NEWS ROUNDUP: Yorkshire economy improvements
21/07/21 | Leeds local news | Experts say West Yorkshire’s economy improved during the spring, but warned that further challenges still lay ahead for the region.
Economic activity in town and city centres nationally has reached levels “higher than at any point during the pandemic” in late May and early June – and West Yorkshire is mirroring that trend, a report by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) officers has claimed.
It added that the number of those in the region furloughed via the Government’s job retention scheme fell to less than a quarter of what it was during its peak in 2020, while the number of out of work claimants was also reducing.
But it warned that the number of jobseekers was still high, while the unwinding of the job retention scheme – still paying out to 72,000 people in the region – could be a roadblock to economic recovery in the region.
The report, using data from Geolytix’s retail recovery index, claimed main urban centres reached levels “comparable to summer 2020” in recent weeks, while Huddersfield, Hebden Bridge, Ilkley and Wetherby all exceeded their “pre-pandemic baselines” during June.
It added that 72,000 jobs were furloughed in West Yorkshire at the end of May, according to data from HMRC – the lowest level since the jobs retention scheme was introduced. It is more than three quarters lower than its peak of 304,000 in June 2020, and down from 103,000 the previous month.
The number of out of work claimants for May 2021 shows a decline of four per cent (4,220) for West Yorkshire, but the current West Yorkshire claimant count of 103,845 is still 47,370 higher than its pre-crisis level in February 2020.
It added business formations are also slightly up on previous years, at just over 11,000 in the first half of 2021 compared to between 9,500 and 10,500 in recent years, according to data from Beauhurst.
However, it added export activity “remained subdued”, adding: “As activity strengthens, a number of factors are leading to cost pressures for businesses according to QES. Some of these are related to the pandemic, though the UK’s exit from the EU also appears to be a factor with higher shipping costs, rising material and component prices and escalating premises costs all contributing.”
“The QES also asked questions about businesses’ plans for returning to the workplace. As might be expected, a majority of manufacturers expect all or most of their staff to be on site in future. But among service sector companies, only a quarter expect a return to 100% of staff in the office full time. Half expect to adopt a hybrid model, and three quarters of these expect staff in only two or three days a week.”
The report concluded: “The above reflects the fact that economic conditions have improved as restrictions have eased, but there remain substantial challenges in the recovery. This is particularly true as some of the support measures in place begin to unwind, such as the Job Retention Scheme, which eases from July, with 72,000 still on the scheme in West Yorkshire.”
It’s been quite the spring/summer for Leeds’ Peter Benefer, who ran 100 half-marathons in a row to raise funds for Herby and Hog House rescue, alongside friends Adam Bradley and Rhyce Tracey who supported other causes.
Inspired by the Captain Sir Tom Moore ‘100’ challenge, Peter says he’s glad the challenge is over, despite now feeling a bit lost without the daily running!
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