Winter of discontent ahead? Your thoughts wanted

ended 11. October 2021

There's uncertainty everywhere in the economy right now: rising energy bills and inflation, supply chain and delivery issues, ongoing fuel concerns, staff shortages, empty supermarket shelves, the removal of the Universal Credit top-up, NI and other tax rises almost certainly on the horizon to pay the enormous pandemic bill, and Covid-19 and other viruses expected to run riot during the winter. Oh, and don't forget the small matter of Brexit, which has gone nowhere. With all this in mind…

  • How confident are you feeling as we head into the winter?
  • What worries you most, and why?
  • How confident are you in the Government's handling of the challenges currently facing the economy?
  • Are we past the worst, in economic terms, or is the worst still to come?

Please keep your responses to a couple of paragraphs max. Premium responses will be edited by a journalist.

8 responses from the Newspage community

Whilst none of us can predict the future, I'm fairly certain that we're headed into a bleak winter. I'm primarily concerned about the rise in unemployment as the furlough comes to an end. We've seen a sharp rise in interest in the startup school I run aimed at those over 50s with many enquiries coming from those who are at risk of losing their job or have been made redundant. I suspect the worse is yet to come.
The next 6 to 9 months are looking extremely tough. Whilst Hospitality is coming back there's still huge uncertainty and if consumers don't have "cash" they won't spend in this sector. Having survived Covid without any Government support, we're very concerned with spiraling costs and market uncertainty that the next 6 -9 months will be extremely difficult.
As a animal (well Dart Frog Breeder) the outlook for the winter is very worrying. We currently have a mass shortage of supplies/equipment/live food for our breeding programmes. In some cases its not just a shortage it's totally sold out and no idea as to when they will be back if ever.. Our breeding programmes assist in the conservation of Poison Dart Frogs, by stopping the illegal trade of these colourful animals. All the factors of brexit, covid, lorry driver shortage etc has caused panic in our workings.
I'm concerned about the mental health impact of this coming winter. Changes in Universal Credit, high unemployment, the end of furlough and high fuel costs can all paint a pretty bleak picture for those on low incomes. This is further exacerbated by escalating COVID-19 cases and increased social isolation because of it. Even in a 'normal year' many struggle with heating bills, but this year the unique combination of factors will mean the cold bites even harder than usual. Being cold has terrible indicators for both physical and mental health.
Honestly, I am worried.. The hair and beauty industry is at breaking point. All the shortages, covid, brexit etc has taken a toll on us unable to get stock and people cancelling appointments or no shows. I conducted a survey with other salons throughout the UK. 99% of them have confirmed they have had more last minute cancellations, more no shows, loss of customers, less income and higher outgoings since April 2021.
My own business, financial advisers, is thriving as low-interest rates encourage savers to seek investment advice. However, the labour shortage makes filling vacancies very difficult and this could limit our growth. Also, many of our corporate clients report similar issues with recruitment and whilst some of them are offering huge wage rises they are still finding it impossible to fill positions. Whilst wage rises are great for employees, I am concerned that simply increasing wages will make the UK uncompetitive globally, and this could lead to job losses further down the line. Consequently, I think we will be seeing economic challenges for some time.
I never expected to be talking about petrol shortages, empty shelves, farmers culling and burning their own livestock, or heating gas supply issues in modern Britain. Yet here we are. Given that I never expected to be talking about these things, I cannot now say I can't expect things to get worse. Especially given we are now facing an increases in taxation and high inflation figures. Unfortunately, I have no faith in the current administration to be able to competently handle these issues, as they seem to have made a hash of most of the problems that have faced them so far. To make matters worse I'm struggling to see any effective opposition from any other party. No one seems to be holding the Governments feet to the fire over any of these issues, many of their own creation, nor their responses to them. All of these will be having an adverse impact on business and the wider economy - be that directly or indirectly. The PM's expectation that somehow it's now all down to businesses to sort these problems out is misguided at best.
It wasn’t so long ago that as a political manoeuvre by the Conservative party we lived through “austerity“. The austerity we are now facing seems just as strict a set of measures to tax, deprive and lockdown on the population’s incomes and earning powers. The number of financial burdens being rested on the shoulders of ordinary citizens post-lockdown and post-Brexit gets more unbearable at every turn. Spiralling costs, tax hikes and complete gaps in parts of the economy that once were strong is the biggest concern, coupled with a government leadership that personifies the cliche of ruling from an ivory tower.