Express & Star

Star comment: Long road ahead to economic recovery

Hope dies last. And as the UK faces bleak economic data that reveals the true nature of the challenges we face, many are simply hoping that things will get better.

Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt

Such optimism might be misplaced, however, for Britain’s economy remains in a parlous state. High inflation and the impact of strikes continue to have an impact.

The outlook is not entirely bleak, though. The UK has avoided falling into a recession, and GDP has grown, albeit only marginally. If, as predicted, energy prices begin to fall later in the year things might start to feel a little more positive.

After the cumulative impact of Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, a period of stability and growth would be a boon for all.

The Government is seeking to usher in a period of managing the books more assiduously, following the choppy waters that the nation has encountered in recent years. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are widely viewed as being a safe pair of hands.

The truth is that we face tough choices, whichever way we look. People want higher wages, but there is not enough to go round. Businesses are facing real challenges in staying afloat, as profits slump and orders are hit.

There are no rainbows on the horizon, where we might look forward to sunnier times. Instead, we must grin and bear it as the nation seeks to move out of its slough, inch by inch, day by day.

Mistakes have been made and we are behind our friends in Europe. The UK needs stability and it needs growth if things are to improve for the nation.

In the months and year ahead, we will continue to face economic headwinds and it may be some time before we turn the corner.

*** The difficulties facing businesses are evident in Tesco’s financial results. A combination of spiralling costs and consumers struggling with the cost of living crisis saw profits halve at the supermarket giant.

While businesses of the scale of Tesco are well placed to ride out such situations, smaller firms facing similar pressures may not have that luxury and will be hoping that things begin to improve very soon.

Cash is king and there is a shortage among smaller firms, who face challenges in keeping afloat.

The fact remains that we’re in a more challenging position now than we were before the pandemic.

There have been acute pressures, not least those caused by Covid, the war in Ukraine, Brexit, high energy costs, and a series of challenges to global logistics. On the ground, people are feeling real pain as they seek to ride out the storm.