18. Weekly Newsletter
On Thursday (6th May), the UK will be holding ‘bumper elections’ as all local elections from 2020 and 2021 will be merged into the one day democratic event now that COVID appears to be under control. An estimated 48m people are eligible to vote and the election will provide most regions with their first opportunity to grade the performance of the government since the 2019 election. Currently polling suggests the largest opposition party will not make substantial gains but are predicted to maintain important positions such as ‘Mayor of London’.
Alongside these local elections (mainly for local councillors and similar positions) there is also one by-election in the northern port town of Hartlepool which may prove to be the main focus of the day. The town voted almost 70% in favour of Brexit in 2016 and could swing towards PM Johnson’s party for the first time in history. Additionally, the pro-independence parties in Scotland and Wales are expected to strengthen their support which would renew the pushes for independence.
Over 4.4m people in the UK have tested positive for COVID but the average daily increase in cases is now at 1,650– compared to over 60,000 at the start of 2021. A total of around 127,500 deaths have been attributed to the virus and the daily increase sits in the single digits- with just one casualty recorded on Monday. Nationally, 34.6m people have received their first vaccine and 15.5m of these patients have also received their second dose. This brings the total number of inoculations carried out, by the private sector and National Health Service, to over 50 million.
On Saturday, the musical city of Liverpool hosted the nation’s first nightclub event in a year with 3,000 attendees. This was part of a series of test events in the UK’s gradual return to normality which have been welcomed by the public. Furthermore, despite the poor weather, demand for post-lockdown pints at pubs has exceeded even the expectations of the British Beer & Pub Association and has led to shortages of supplies.
The chief executive of Barclays, Staley, has forecasted that the UK can expect 2021 to be it’s biggest economic boom since 1948. A cause of this has been attributed to the “tremendous pent-up demand” built up during the pandemic which is now being unleashed. His forecasts for 2021 are also expected to extend into 2022 and are being similarly replicated in the US. However, Staley has warned that Europe “may have a little bit of a tougher time” due to the comparatively slower vaccine roll-out. Staley’s interview with the BBC also highlighted that spending is already up 70% during the first fortnight of April in comparison to the same time last year.
On the other hand, the UK economy will still remain around 2.8% below its pre-pandemic level at the end of 2021. The last year also left around 700,000 firms in significant financial distress during the pandemic but fortunately the number of failures fell by over 25%. Plus, forecasters on the UK economy have been upgrading predictions for the year and the Government have ordered a further 60m vaccinations to prepare for any future developments.