Mixed economic outlook for Flintshire after the double blow of Covid and Brexit

FLINTSHIRE faces a mixed economic outlook after suffering a double blow from Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

A report was released by the Flintshire Council examining the county’s current economic health after two major events.

Recruitment and supply chain issues hit local businesses after the Brexit transition period ended on December 31, 2020.

The Covid crisis has also had a big impact due to the restrictions introduced to control the spread of the virus.

The double effect saw Flintshire drop seven places in an annual ranking comparing the economic competitiveness of UK counties.

The region was ranked 149th out of 362 in the 2021 UK Competitiveness Index, recently published by researchers at Cardiff University and Nottingham Business School.

However, the general manager of the Planning, Environment and Economic Council said the fall did not necessarily represent a decline in the county’s prospects.

In a report, Andrew Farrow said: “The UK economy is going through a major transition following two unprecedented events, the Covid-19 pandemic and the UK’s departure from the European Union.

“This report provides a summary of current economic conditions in the region and county drawing on a number of sources.

“Flintshire now ranks 149th out of 362 counties, a relative drop of seven places since 2020.

“As with all indices, this may represent an improvement in the ranking of other counties, not necessarily a worsening of conditions in Flintshire.

“The report reveals that expected economic growth is likely to be slow across the UK and that all regions have localities that are being left behind although this is more prevalent in the North East, Yorkshire and the Wales.”

The report shows that other economic indicators in Flintshire have improved over the past 12 months, including the number of empty shops in the town center.

A recent count of vacant ground floor units carried out by the council shows a better position compared to 2017.

In Flint, there would have been only four empty stores, a reduction from 12 previously.

Mold also fared well with just ten empty units, making up about four percent of the city’s total count.

Mr Farrow said: “This is an extremely low level of vacancy and should have improved further since the time the count was taken.

“For the record, there seems to be a resurgence of interest from small businesses in acquiring downtown floor space for retail. ”

Despite the positive outlook for large cities, he said investment by large companies was “very limited” in other areas.

The length of time that shops sit empty in Flintshire are also said to be longer than the Welsh average.

Mr Farrow said: “The council does not currently have enough data sources to monitor the health of the downtown area.

“In response, it is now commissioning electronic traffic monitoring equipment for all city centers.

“In addition, he appointed additional staff to hire and support downtown businesses and gather first-hand information on business conditions.”

The report also examines the performance of major industries in Flintshire, with manufacturing accounting for around 28% of jobs.

He says: “The sector, Flintshire’s most critical in terms of scale, appears to be recovering strongly from the impacts of Covid despite supply chain and recruitment issues.

“Locally, there remains a strong commercial interest in investing in the county and in business expansion.

“The availability of candidates with the right skills remains a major constraint to recovery and longer-term growth, as does the availability of sites and premises suitable for investment.

“The rising costs of operating supply chains can cause long-term competitive disadvantage for factories in Flintshire. ”

The report will be reviewed by members of the board’s Covid recovery committee at a meeting next Thursday (January 6, 2021).

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