At the start of the Covid pandemic most believed that the economic implications would be severe and long lasting. In one respect they were right - the restriction on supply of critical components, like microchips, continues to force up inflation. This without doubt will be compounded by the absolutely necessary steps being taken across the West to weaken the Russian economy and its ability to wage war. These measures will have a negative economic impact on Europe and beyond but a far less negative and dangerous impact than giving Putin the impression that we are not prepared to act with resolve against his illegal, brutal act.
The U.K. has very limited ability to control the price of global commodities. However in our own economy the huge measures put in place to support jobs and businesses during Covid have worked far better than most imagined would be possible.
This week's data revealed the National employment rate returning to pre-pandemic levels. The jobless rate averaged 3.8% in the three months to February according to the ONS. Schemes such as furlough have allowed businesses to bounce-back fast and the jobs market shows promising signs of this happening.
Locally, the figures reflect the promising national picture and in many ways Horsham has bounced back quicker than the country as a whole. Our current local claimant count is 2.1%, half the equivalent rate UK wide. This reflects hard work by the local Job Centre Plus and Horsham District Council in matching local residents with opportunities in and around the district. The Government has also played an important role, most recently through the new Way to Work scheme which aims to get 500,000 people into work by the end of June.
Whatever the global economic storm employment is a vital route to help people through it. However the increases in the cost of living are significant and no Government will be able to erase its impact. We are though investing billions to mitigate its effects. This is in addition to a rise in the National Living Wage which will place an additional £1,000 in the pockets of millions and an increase in the National Insurance personal threshold to place it in line with the Income Tax Allowance, this will limit the necessary increase in NICs to support the NHS post covid snd social care longer term to a small proportion of taxpayers. The world emerging from the enforced economic hibernation of covid was never going to be easy but the employment data shows we remain on track.