Green technology firms, artisan food and drink producers and businesses focused on urban renewal are among those most likely to benefit once Britain’s economic recovery gets under way, a leading commentator told a HURST Executive Insight event.
Speaking on Zoom, Martin Vander Weyer said other sectors to watch in the revival would be biotechnology, defence technology, working from home technology, logistics and fulfilment for online retail, and estate agents.
He addressed a large audience of business leaders from across the region with a talk entitled "The Outlook for the Entrepreneur".
Martin, (pictured below) the business editor of The Spectator magazine and an author, predicted a fast recovery for the UK economy as a result of the vaccination programme and said there were ‘quite exciting prospects’ for the second half of 2021.
Entrepreneurs ‘hold the key to future prosperity’
The latter part of the year will be a good time for business expansion, he said. Factors such as cheap workspace, a positive approach from the banks, and cash-rich private investors keen to support new businesses and ideas will provide the impetus for growth.
Alongside this, recruitment should be easier as the economy emerges from recession. Martin said climate change is likely to move back to the top of the business agenda once the pandemic is over.
He predicted that the ‘green industrial revolution’ hailed by Boris Johnson would go on for the next 10 years, with electric vehicles, offshore wind power and potentially tidal power at the forefront.
There will also be enormous opportunities for more eco-friendly approaches towards house-building.
Meanwhile, artisan producers and companies involved in engineering, architecture and education will enjoy new global trading possibilities.
Martin said infrastructure schemes would also provide economic stimulus, with projects such as HS2, Crossrail and Hinkley Point moving forward, and urban renewal programmes being launched to regenerate empty high streets and office buildings by turning them into residential buildings or incubators for business start-ups.
The government’s commitment to ‘levelling up’ the economy will bring particular opportunities for entrepreneurs in the north, he added.
He said key drivers would include investment in road and rail schemes, broadband and social housing, alongside a greater focus on skills education
and the possible shift of public sector jobs and government departments to the region.
However, Martin warned the recovery would be mixed across the economy. Sectors such as tourism, hospitality and culture have been left devasted by Covid-19
and will take longer to bounce back, and restrictions on travel-related and crowd-related activities will remain in place for some time.
Short-term consequences of Brexit will be felt
He said we are still in a period of ‘unravelling post-Brexit chaos’, with the new landscape creating more paperwork, border controls and bureaucracy,
and uncertainty for many sectors, such as the Scottish seafood industry.
On the upside, Martin said Joe Biden’s election as US president would have a positive effect.
The American economy will see a swift recovery due to various stimulus measures and President Biden’s rapid action on Covid-19, which will help stock markets.
Martin said he expects the Biden team to deal with the EU and the UK in parallel. “There’s no reason why the UK should be left behind,” he said.
The new occupant of The White House is in favour of climate action, in contrast to Donald Trump who ‘let it rip’ by rolling back regulation.
Martin said Biden’s strategy may prove restrictive on some aspects of business but that others will benefit from the opportunities that it brings.
Martin told the audience he was appointed as business editor of The Spectator by none other than Boris Johnson, the magazine editor at the time, with whom he also worked at the Daily Telegraph.
However, he said the prime minister himself was not particularly interested in business, numbers or economic ideas.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has become a hero to the business world for his response during the pandemic, said Martin.
But he added that the chancellor faces a number of important choices in the forthcoming Budget, with potential action on capital gains tax rates, higher-end pension reliefs and the triple lock and the stamp duty holiday, as well as incentives to encourage inward investment in the post-Brexit era.
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