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Booming Economy Problems

By Jim Hancock

By Jim Hancock

With the economy set to bounce back strongly, Jim looks at the labour and material shortages that could be a problem. He also attacks the BBC's Andrew Marr who says he's frustrated he can't express his opinions freely.

Northern businesses are set to benefit from a forecast 7% growth in the economy in coming months. The pent-up demand for retail, hospitality and housing look set to provide the lift firms so badly need.

However, not for the first time in our industrial history, there is likely to be a mismatch between demand and the workforce. Vacancies increased by 88,000 last month which could lead to demands for higher pay leading to higher inflation which is becoming a worry for world economists.

Labour shortages are particularly acute in construction, transport, food processing, health, and social care. These were often the jobs taken by workers from the European Union who have been frightened away by the hostile atmosphere created by Brexit. Covid has accelerated the exodus. A further problem is a shortage of people with IT skills. This is an issue that must be focussed upon as the government’s new training and retraining schemes come into action.

Apart from Labour shortages, there is evidence of problems with raw materials for the construction industry, particularly timber.

All in all, it is going to be a somewhat unpredictable summer for business. It is probably better that the issues alluded to above are better than mass unemployment and lack of demand, but they do present challenges.

Alongside this we have the pandemic and the lingering question of whether it is actually coming to an end and when will its impact on firms begin to fade. Not yet it seems.

There is continued confusion for the travel industry over the government’s designation of “amber” countries for holidays and work caused by ministerial anxiety over the Indian variant of the virus. It seems likely that June 21st will not see the full relaxation of restrictions that most had hoped for.

Bosses are going to face some tricky decisions in the face of a growing backlash against workers who refuse vaccination.


On a different subject, I see that Andrew Marr wants to be able to speak his mind on political issues. Marr presents his eponymous show each Sunday on the BBC. The programme is focused on the issues of the day with top politicians as guests.

He told a book festival audience this week that he found the BBC’s guidelines on impartiality “very frustrating”. He felt a desperate urge to come out of the closet with his political views.

Well, be my guest Andrew. We will hang on every word that you utter but not from a BBC platform. If you want to tell us what you think, the rough world of the political arena awaits where you would be tested by people who don’t enjoy your fat salary but make great sacrifices to take their chance with the voters.

There is a whiff of arrogance in Marr’s position. There is almost a presumption that we are all waiting for his pearls of wisdom. There is also a hint that he would like to opine whilst keeping his job.

I operated under the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality. You give up the right to partisanship. It is part of the job.

It is also important at a time when the BBC’s enemies (armed with the belief that it is the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation) are looking for any small chink in the armour of impartiality to bring it down.

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