Cambs and Peterborough economy showing signs of recovery, report says

Austen Adams (Divisional Managing Director).Stainless Metalcraft,

Austen Adams, chair of the business board at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. He is also the divional managing director of Stainless Metalcraft in Chatteris. Picture by Terry Harris. - Credit: Terry Harris/

A report that examines the impact of Covid-19 on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough economy has found recovery is underway in the region.

A rebound in manufacturing, retail and construction is helping – but the region’s overall economy is recorded as 7.6 per cent smaller than pre-pandemic levels.

This is close to a £500m fall in output.

The impact does vary across the county, with Cambridge’s economy shrinking by 10 per cent and Fenland’s dropped by 5 per cent.

Growing consumer confidence is contributing towards the recovery, and more than 90 per cent of businesses are now trading and reporting improved profits.

But 40,0000 workers were still furloughed at the beginning of May 2021 and at least 30,000 more are on Universal Credit compared to before the pandemic.

The report’s findings were heard by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s business board earlier this month.

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Austen Adams, the chair, said: “Since our last review we have seen the rapid and impressive rollout of a vaccination programme, which has helped contain the virus.

“Alongside this, we also have signs of recovery in key sectors in our economy including manufacturing, construction, retail and hospitality and more firms are reporting increased profits.

“We must help businesses and sectors which have struggled, but also seize on new opportunities, allowing high growth firms to continue on an upward path.”

Retail, hospitality and entertainment businesses have been most impacted by Covid-19, but are recovering.

Before the pandemic, around one in four in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough were employed in these areas – but businesses are now reporting difficulties in recruiting staff.

A particular challenge has been filling jobs previously held by workers from the EU and elsewhere who left the UK during the pandemic.

There is also a correlation between areas of pre-existing deprivation and the numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths, as well as new Universal Credit Claims.

This was most pronounced in Peterborough and Wisbech, but also seen in Soham, St Neots and Parts of Cambridge.

The report added the unequal impacts of the crisis seem likely to spill over into an unequal recovery, with deprived people and places most affected.

Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “The impacts of this crisis have been unequal. Areas of deprivation have seen higher numbers of cases and deaths.

“Public health still sits at the heart of our recovery, so while the positive signs from business are encouraging, we must also continue to look out for one another.”

The report’s findings will help the Combined Authority and Business Board continue to adapt its support for businesses as part of the Local Economic Recovery Strategy.

Its next revision is due in November 2021.