Star comment: Businesses need glimmer of light at end of long, dark tunnel

Our business community has been through a hugely difficult few years. Brexit, Covid, spiralling energy costs and now our cost-of-living crisis have presented challenges on a scale not encountered for many years, if ever. On top of these issues is recruitment.

With so many businesses struggling to find the right kind of staff, the challenges facing industry are likely to continue for some time. Businesses might think they’ve found the right worker, only for that potential employee to hike up the asking offer at the 11th hour, or request different terms and conditions. Worse still, businesses might find themselves without any applicants for a vacancy they need to fill.

Without the pool of European labour on which to draw, the situation is parlous, particularly for such industries as hospitality. Across our region, there are many examples of businesses playing a game of recruitment roulette, where they find themselves in competition with others for jobs that they would once have filled with ease.

While there are signs that stability is returning to the political landscape after months of turmoil, it is to be hoped this is reflected in the economy.

Our businesses certainly need a break. Not all will survive the harsh trading conditions of the New Year and there will inevitably be more closures. It seems that the geo-political situation will not move for some time and we are stuck in a hard place for now.

It is up to our political leaders and our business leaders to find ways of addressing the structural difficulties facing the economy.

Businesses have faced a tough time. They all need to believe there is light at the end of this long and dark tunnel.

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Christmas will look different for families this year. With the cost of living crisis ongoing many will be thinking about how to make changes.

But it is difficult - those with young families will still be expected to deliver all the presents on the list, placing parents under more pressure.

It is going to be a tough festive season for many. Those who face such choices might actually be the lucky ones. There will be many who simply can’t afford to buy gifts - they’ll be too busy paying the rent or the council tax, while watching when they can afford to use the heating.

It feels like the toughest social conditions for 50 years as we fall down the international pecking order.

All of us can feel the pinch as the nation’s economic outlook changes and as we face different trade-offs in our personal and family lives.

Kindness, thoughtfulness and love are free, of course, and they will be in abundance, no doubt.

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