Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
Travel Problems Could Continue Into Summer
The travel industry cut thousands of jobs during the pandemic, but as demand for flights has returned, it has struggled to recruit, carry out security checks, and train new staff quickly enough. Due to these worker shortages, airports and ports are facing a very difficult summer.
Unemployment Rate Dropped to 3.8%
The unemployment rate has dropped further to 3.8% in the three months to February, as employers struggle to hire staff, and more people drop out of the labour force. The economic inactivity rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 21.4% in December 2021 to February 2022, as 76,000 more people became economically inactive in the quarter because they are looking after family or home, retired, or long-term sick.
Economic Growth Slowed to Just 0.1% in February
The economy grew by just 0.1% in February, falling short of the 0.3% growth predicted by most analysts. Despite a recovery in tourism activity, including travel agencies, hotels, and tour operators, the economy was dragged down by a decline in production, which slipped by 0.6% and construction which fell by 0.1%. The monthly GDP is now 1.5% above its pre-pandemic level of February 2020.
Real Regular Pay Declined
Regular pay, excluding bonuses, only increased by 4.0% over the last 12 months. This means real regular pay packets declined by 1.0% once you adjust for inflation.
Household Support Fund Doubled
The Household Support Fund was doubled to £1 billion, as the government takes further steps to help pensioners and families with the rising cost of living. The extension will run for six months to the end of September. If you want to find out what help is available in your area through the Household Support Fund, contact your local council.
Energy Bills Support Scheme
The government recognises that many households need support to help deal with rising energy bills, which is why it is providing a package of support worth £9.1 billion from 2022 to 2023 which includes the Energy Bills Support Scheme. Under this scheme, domestic electricity customers will receive a £200 reduction in their electricity costs from this October.
Deadline Extension for Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Scheme
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy confirmed that it is proposing a 12-month extension to the non-domestic RHI’s application deadline, moving the date from 31 March 2022 to 31 March 2023.
Also set to be extended are the second and third allocations of the scheme’s tariff guarantee, which will allow organisations to secure a fixed tariff before their installation is commissioned and accredited.
£500 Million Plan for Jobs Expansion
Workers leaving the furlough scheme and unemployed individuals over 50 years old will be supported back into work as part of more than £500m expansion of the government’s Plan for Jobs. People earning the lowest wages will also benefit and existing schemes targeting young people will be extended into next year as part of the new package.
Starting in April 2022, the Government is enhancing its programme of support for workers on Universal Credit.
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