41. Weekly Newsletter

Weekly Newsletter on UK Developments: Week 41

UK’s Pandemic Economy

The UK economy is 21.8% smaller than it was at the end of 2019 and unemployment has risen to 4.1% (highest level in 2 years). In comparison, Sweden saw a much larger rise in unemployment (8.8%) and was already at almost twice the rate. However, despite this, Sweden saw an economic contraction of 8.6% which would suggest that the UK’s unemployment figures are yet to catch up with the economy; once the successful furlough schemes ends in October the true decline in British unemployment figures should become clearer.

The number of hours worked by the British workforce between February and June fell by almost 200m (close to 20%) to the lowest level since 1995. Good news can be seen in the all-time record household savings as between April-June £2.91 for every £10 was saved by the public; the previous record was set in 1993 and that only saw a 14.4% savings ratio. However, this was mainly as a result of refunds being issued (i.e. from booked holidays) and the inability to spend in the domestic hospitality sector. Inflation is also now at a 5 year low of 5%. Finally, UK house prices hit record highs during one of the most turbulent periods of Britain’s economic history and now sit at over £224,123 (according to Nationwide Bank) as housing priorities have changed and stamp duties have been slashed.

UK’s COVID Update

Scotland, despite being the least densely populated nation in Great Britain, with a population density of 70/sqkm (England: 432/sqkm and Sweden: 25/sqkm) has seen the greatest concentration in COVID cases and is now undergoing the strictest lockdowns– which now nationally bans people from making indoor social visits to other households. Across the rest of the UK: Sheffield, Leeds and Oxford are expected to enter lockdown as a result of university students returning for their studies this academic year.

It was also just revealed, by the UK Government, that the NHS ‘Test and Trace’ system has accidentally missed 16,000 positive coronavirus cases due to an Excel error. Whilst those with positive cases were informed about their diagnosis: the system failed to inform everyone they had come into contact with and thus failed in its purpose of tracing. This has gained widespread ridicule across the UK and has forced the Health Secretary, Hancock, to publicly apologise. It also then required an additional 16,000 positive cases to the national tally.

The Future of Energy

PM Johnson is set to announce his new ‘Build Back Greener’ initiative at the Conservative Party Conference today (6th October) to fulfil his ambition to make Britain a global leader in clean power generation. This plan will make £160m available for ports and infrastructure across Britain’s less economically developed areas as the next generation of wind turbines are built. Wind power will be the particular focus of the PM as he strives to make ‘Britain the nation of wind power- like Saudi Arabia is the country of oil’.

The news of this ambition will likely encourage even higher levels of investment, and confidence, into green energy suppliers across Britain. The Government will also be announcing that the 10 year target for offshore wind power generation will be rising by a third to 40 gigawatts. Furthermore, the PM argues this will directly (and indirectly) create 60,000 more jobs before the UK reaches it’s 2050 target of carbon neutrality.

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