In November 2021, prior to the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, key issues being raised by Buckinghamshire businesses included:
Staff shortages and recruitment difficulties (particularly in the entertainment, leisure, hospitality, engineering, digital, construction, health care, social care and film/TV sectors). Implications of which included: reducing opening hours, increased pressure on existing staff, poaching and wage inflation.
Long lead times in obtaining supplies of goods and parts. Some businesses reported that they were just beginning to understand the extent of the difficulties they face as they had stockpiled or had plentiful stock from a drop in demand during the pandemic. Electrical components are proving particularly difficult for local companies to source
On a positive note, in the month that saw COP26, there was evidence of increased demand for green technologies. BBF business advisors reported that installers of low-carbon technologies appeared to be struggling to keep up with demand, whilst two Buckinghamshire-based electric vehicle companies (MOKE and DriveElectric) made growth announcements.
There were also signs of confidence returning to the outbound travel industry. However, the emergence of Omicron is likely to have quashed this.
The above issues were highlighted to BBF by local businesses. BBF use this 'on-the-ground' intelligence to inform local business support activity and share it with central Government (BEIS) on a weekly basis to inform national strategy.