Unemployment is falling, but our recovery is patchy


The Chancellor will be happy with this morning’s unemployment figures. The UK’s jobless rate has fallen to 4.3 per cent, the number of workers on payroll has jumped to 29.3 million, and we’ve seen no spike in redundancies at the end of furlough in September. 

The headline figures may look very promising, but dig a little deeper and we can see that our economic recovery is uneven across the country. For the three months ending in September 2021, London had the highest jobless rate at 5.6% compared to 3.3% in the South West. Not surprising when you look at the impact of the pandemic, the closure of the Capital’s retail, leisure and hospitality, and the collapse of international tourism.

Footfall is another factor to consider. We know that the streets of London are slowly picking up, but footfall is still way behind pre-pandemic levels. Indeed, the Centre for Cities think tank found that daytime weekly footfall in our Capital is still some 47 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. By comparison in York, the figure is around 92 per cent. 

The Prime Minister, as we’ve heard many times, is on a mission to ‘level up’ the country, and getting our recovery on a more even footing around the country will be vital if he is to succeed. BIDs have a major role to play in this, and our industry is at the forefront of some good, creative stuff taking place.  We are promoting our towns and cities, making our public spaces safer. We are putting together recovery strategies, and helping drive forward regeneration projects with our local authority partners. Take Sunderland BID as just one example, they are progressing with a project to encourage independent businesses to set up in the city centre through brand new incubator space.

So let's indeed celebrate the headlines, and the fact that we in the BID industry will be important players in the levelling up agenda.  

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