05 May 2022

An update on the economy by Julie Kapsalis, Coast to Capital Chair

As we move into Spring, I am struck by the energy and activity that is rippling across our region. Against the backdrop of the economic climate, our region is strengthening to place us firmly on the map as a diverse, vibrant, and thriving local economy.


I was delighted to see Nyetimber Estate publish a record year for sales in 2021 as well as Ridgeview Wine Estate planning to expand its hospitality offering. Our viticulture sector is really thriving, even with the impact Brexit and Covid-19 has had on the sector’s temporary workforce. It is this resilience across our business community that drives our vision at Coast to Capital.


While some businesses are reporting significant growth, the region’s economic outlook is being impacted by the rise in inflation.


At Coast to Capital, we regularly monitor our regional economy in order to allocate resources and services to help our businesses thrive. Our Knowledge and Analysis Lead, Marsha Robert, analyses national and regional data trends and also monitors sentiment, data and commentary from our businesses on the ground, to help shape our outlook. Taking a look at Q1, here are some of our insights:


Inflation continued to rise with a 6.2% increase in the 12 months to February 2022, the largest monthly increase between January and February since 2009. The recent rises in energy and fuel prices are considered the main reasons for the high inflation rate. Businesses have reported to our Growth Hub that some staff are returning to working from home full-time due to the increased fuel prices, leaving more on-site work for the owners. 


Insolvencies increased by 41% between December 2021 and February 2022 with the professional, scientific, and technical businesses making up 20% of the insolvencies in this period. The total number of insolvencies in February 2022 was 1,180, a much higher number when compared to the same month in 2021(139). However, new company registrations also increased by 43% between the same period, with retail and professional, scientific and technical sectors, topping the list. This demonstrates the entrepreneurial and resilient nature of our business base.


The Claimant rate in Coast to Capital followed the national trend and declined by 0.1 percentage point to 3.8% between February and March 2022, compared to 5.3% nationally. Crawley and Brighton & Hove had the highest rates, in line with the national average, both at 5.3%. Worthing saw the biggest fall in claimant numbers with a decline of 165 claimants.


Postings followed the national trend and decreased by 9% between December 2021 and January 2022, but then increased by 9% in the first two months of 2022. The top five most advertised occupations in February 2022 were nurses, care workers, programmers and software development professionals, other administrative occupations, and sales related occupations. Across our region, Brighton, Crawley, Chichester, Epsom and Worthing posted the most jobs.


Businesses continue to struggle with recruitment and retention of staff, particularly in the hospitality sector where 90% of potential applications would have been from the EU. The changing environmental and political climate is also having an impact, for instance many public attractions and seafront businesses across Sussex had to close operations for several days due to disruptions from Storm Eunice.


With businesses struggling to recruit and retain a skilled workforce, the work of our Careers Hub has never been more important and our focus on skills remains firmly at the top of our agenda. Last month, over a thousand parents and students joined a virtual careers event to mark National Careers Week. Funded by the LEP through the Local Hub Fund, the event showcased the wide range of industries available, while also supporting parents and carers to ensure that our future workforce is well equipped.


Finally, it has been fantastic to see activity at Gatwick thrive with the removal of all remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions and the re-opening of the South Terminal in March providing much-needed jobs back into the area. Over the next few months we expect to really see how the rise in inflation is impacting our region and we will continue to provide business support services through our Growth Hub. For more information about the support available, please click here.


Julie Kapsalis, Coast to Capital Chair


Coast to Capital provides economic data and analysis research as part of the Regional Projects function, for more information please email contact@coast2capital.org.uk.

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