‘Don’t let county be­come a work­ing age ghost town – we must thrive’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - BUSINESS - With PHILIPPA BAT­TING of Buck­ing­hamshire Busi­ness First

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.

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