‘Don’t let county become a working age ghost town – we must thrive’
DESPITE Buckinghamshire’s advantages over most parts of the country, including our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, proximity to London and world class schools, there are plenty of challenges facing the county and its businesses in the coming years.
One such challenge is population growth, or to be more exact, slow growth in the working age population.
Buckinghamshire’s population is estimated to grow by almost 55,000 by 2026, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), yet less than a third of this growth will come via working age people.
In fact the proportion of the area’s residents who are of working age fell in 2015 to 61.5% and is estimated to fall to 57% by 2031. This places pressure on businesses trying to find the qualified, skilled employees.
The Buckinghamshire business community is a well-oiled machine with different sized and shaped cogs turning every day to keep every business running and as many people as possible in either education, employment or training.
This relies on myriad factors but this shortage of working age people is in danger of turning Buckinghamshire into a working age ghost town within a generation.
It doesn’t help matters that the cost of private rents are among the highest in England, with Chiltern district in the top 10% in the country for private rental prices.
Additionally, average house prices in Buckinghamshire rose by 10% in the last year compared to 6% nationally, and while it is true that the county’s disposable household income levels are high, they have been below the national rate of growth 10 times in the last 13 years.
This makes Buckinghamshire one of the least affordable places to live in the country, according to the ONS. Given this, those of working age could become less likely to view the area as a place to live, work and move to, leaving our businesses suffering as a result.
It is vital that we ensure Bucks is the best place to do business in the country, so that we can offer the next generation of business owners and employees a place where they can thrive.
Creating this environment remains a primary focus of Buckinghamshire Business First and through our business support team, grant funding schemes, free workspaces across the county and plenty more, we are determined to ensure that the county is a place for everyone to live, work, dream and prosper.