This morning marked the first East Herts Business Breakfast Club (EHBBC) event since Britain’s vote to leave the EU was announced. For those of you who are familiar with EHBBC events, you will know that our previous event fell on the last day of campaigning before Britain went to the polls, so we welcomed 84 guests and a ‘Question Time’ style panel of experts from the Leave and Remain sides – and it appeared that many were still undecided.
The Brexit theme continued for this morning’s event, and, as a new start for the UK lies ahead in terms of its independence from Europe, EHBBC made its own fresh start at a brand new venue.
EHBBC is hosted every quarter by Wilkins Kennedy and NatWest Bank and has been running for more than 15 years. However, a new location was needed and we found the perfect one in the Halsey Centre in Cheshunt.
Usually, our EHBBC events include a presentation either from Wilkins Kennedy or NatWest Bank, covering a variety of topics including fraud, tax planning, buying and selling businesses, among many others. Today’s event was covered by Stephen Blackman, Senior Economist at NatWest Bank, who presented to more than 70 guests on the topic of Fear Factor: does Brexit matter that much? Areas of focus included productivity growth, jobs, consumer spending and population growth – all of which appeared steady and ‘on trend’ following Brexit – according to Stephen Blackman, there should be very little to worry about.
What was quite interesting, was the link between productivity growth and a stabilising economy. As Stephen pointed out, we are living in an increasingly IT-dominated world which has given way to more jobs, growth in industry and pay rises as a result.
It was demonstrated through figures which showed a 2.1 million increase in jobs in just half a decade between 2011 and 2015. To put that into perspective, there were 1.9 million new jobs in the 10 years from 2000 to 2010 and 0.4 million in the 1980s – so it just goes to show how the service revolution has provided a growth in the jobs market.
Population growth is also still on track, regardless of the Brexit vote – and forecasts are not subject to change from pre-vote figures. Current trends, if continued, show that by 2020 there will be 1 million more workers, more than half new jobs will be high skilled, there will be 160,000 net new businesses and 10 sectors will account of 8% of new business.
Consumer spending, as well, seems to remain stable despite campaign ‘scaremongering’ that a vote to Leave could deter people from spending their cash on the high street. This is something that is echoed by our Head of Retail and Wholesale here at Wilkins Kennedy – you can read more here.
That said, it is still early days and what will come from Brexit remains to be seen – and this was something echoed by an active Q&A session, where our captive audience’s questions came through thick and fast.
We look forward to welcoming everybody to our next event in early December – check out our events page for more details coming soon.