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Our Strategy

Economic Data and Intelligence

This page provides an overview of key intelligence on the impact to date of COVID-19 on our economic output, our people and our businesses.

We will use this information to guide our response, ensuring that we can protect and boost the SELEP economy in the short, medium and long term.

Our Economic Recovery and Renewal Strategy – Working Together for a Faster, Smarter and More Sustainable Economic Recovery – sets out how we will work with partners to support a path to recovery and renewal in the short to medium term.

It outlines the clear opportunities and needs of the SELEP area and the actions that we will take to drive the South East into new economic growth as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and establishes new ways of working internationally following the EU Transition.

This page will be updated monthly.

Working Together for a Faster, Smarter and More Sustainable Economic Recovery

View the report

SELEP overview

The number of employee jobs on furlough through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) reduced to 140,700 at the end of May, down from 292,200 at January month-end. This was 8.0% of jobs which compares to a UK average of 8.1%, and not much above the previous low point of 133,100 seen last October.

A total of 144,600 claims were made for Grant 4 of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme which was 57% of the potentially eligible self-employed. This compared to 69% for Grant 2 and 65% for Grant 3.

The percentage of working age people (aged 16 to 64) included in the Claimant Count reduced to 5.2% in June down from 6.2% in February. This was the lowest rate seen since last April but still much higher than the 2.8% last March. Some individuals on furlough or in receipt of Self-Employment income support are also eligible for further support through universal credit and are included within the Claimant Count.

PAYE payroll numbers for June were just 10,000 below the February 2020 level, having increased significantly in recent months, and are now 43,000 higher than the low point in November.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, local authorities across SELEP had issued £1,455.3 million in coronavirus support grants to small and medium sized businesses up to the 30 May. Most of this (£803 mill.) was issued last year through the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund (RHLGF) which closed in August 2020. Since November, a total of £442.6 million has been paid out through the Local Restrictions and Additional Restrictions grant schemes, with a further £168.2 million of grants more recently issued through the Restart grant scheme.

Up to the end of March over 114,000 loans have been taken up by businesses across SELEP with a total value of £4.87bn under the government’s two largest Covid-19 business loan schemes, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS). Average loan size was £240,000 for CBILS and £30,000 for BBLS.

The SELEP Growth Hub supported 333 business engagements, across 197 unique businesses in June, with support activity beginning to return to more normal pre-pandemic levels.

Federated Area and Local Authority Data

National overview

UK economic output, as measured by Gross Domestic Output (GDP), fell by 1.6% in the first quarter of 2021. This was significantly better than expected by economic forecasters and when compared to a 19.5% drop in output in Lockdown 1. Over the year 2020 as a whole, GDP is estimated to have contracted by 9.8%, marking the largest annual fall in UK GDP on record.

Service sector output has been increasing each month since January and for June was 3.4% below the pre-pandemic level in February 2020, compared to 9.6% below in January.

Since September last year there has seen a significant increase in the UK rate of new company formations. Following a large drop in the number of companies being dissolved in quarter 2 of 2020, due to a pause on the strike off process, numbers picked up in quarter 4 and remain higher than normal.

The seasonally adjusted UK unemployment rate reduced from 5.2% to 4.9% in Quarter 1, 2021, the first reduction seen since the start of the pandemic. Concerns remain that the unemployment rate may increase again later in the year after the job furlough scheme winds down.

Seasonally adjusted UK payroll job numbers from HMRC Pay as You Earn Real Time Information systems increased significantly during May and June to reach 28.9 million, the highest level seen since last March. This was 200,000 down from February 2020, and 800,000 higher than in December 2020.

Job vacancy levels across the UK have shown a strong recovery since February and in both May and June exceeded pre-pandemic levels in 2019, reaching an all-time high.  

The average number of jobs in the UK on furlough decreased to 2.6 million in May, down from 5.0 million during January. This was the lowest level seen since last October when the number of furloughed jobs was 2.5 million.

Across the UK, 1.94 million claims were made for Grant 4 of the Self-Employment income support scheme, which was 58% of the potentially eligible self-employed population, and down from 77% for grant 1.

National Context and Sector Analysis

*Please note that for data relating to national schemes, previous months’ volumes are subject to change as counting and reporting methodologies are improved over time. Therefore, any supporting narrative and trend analysis provided by SELEP will refer to the most recent figures available.