Agenda item



Members had been provided with a copy of the Economic Data Report 2021/22 Q2 (July – September 2021) and an update on the Economic Development Strategy – Priority Actions for Quarter 2 2021/22 (July – September 2021).


Ose Akpom, LBB Economic Development Manager, informed Members that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of start-ups in Bromley had fluctuated at around 200 businesses per month. There had been a huge spike in the number, with around a 50% increase in September 2020. This had been immediately followed by a fall in business start-ups, and the numbers had generally continued to fall until July 2021. More recently there had been an increase, and in August 2021 this figure had stood at around 150 per month.


The number of unemployed claimants in Bromley had hugely increased, from 5,000 prior to lockdown, to a peak of approximately 12,000 in September 2020. This number had been gradually decreasing since April 2021, and in August 2021 stood at 9,025, however they would like to see this reduce further. The number of jobs furloughed in Bromley had reduced from 20,360 (31st March 2021), to 16,320 (30th April 2021) – at the end of July 2021 this figure stood at around 8,000 jobs. The proportion of jobs on furlough for industry sectors within Bromley followed a similar pattern to that seen across London. It was noted that following the impact of the pandemic, employment would be a key area of focus in the borough.


Between 2015 and 2021, apprenticeship starts in Bromley generally maintained an average of 1,488 per annum. This was slightly above the average figure of 1,474 across a number of local boroughs. The latest 2020/21 figures reported so far showed a reduction of 20% in the apprenticeship starts as compared with 2019/20 across all boroughs.


The LBB Economic Development Manager advised that pre-pandemic, footfall had been high, but this had reduced following the subsequent periods of lockdown. The total number of visitors for the first 8 months of the year to August 2021 was up by 0.9% on the previous year but was 33.3% below normal footfall levels in 2019. In comparison, a reduction in footfall of 2% had been experienced across Greater London during the first 8 months of the year, compared to the same period during the previous year. This was 47.6% below normal footfall levels in 2019. Bromley town centre had experienced the largest increase in vacancy rate overall compared to the other town centres within the borough, increasing from 9.4% in April 2020 to 12.2% as at July 2021 (+2.8%). This vacancy rate was also higher than the average rate across Greater London (10.7%). The second largest increase in vacancy rate over the same period was in Orpington, which was primarily experienced over the last quarter. However, it was noted that the vacancy rate in Bromley town centre was lower than some other comparable areas such as Croydon (23.8%), Kingston-upon-Thames (13.3%) and Sutton (16.4%).


With regards to retail spending activity, the benchmark data had been taken from 2019. In comparison, from March 2020, the first period of lockdown, the retail spend in Bromley High Street had dramatically reduced to around 20% of the normal spend. Following the easing of restrictions in June/July 2020 there had been a significant recovery (up to 80% of normal spend), but subsequent lockdown restrictions had generally suppressed retail spending up until April 2021. Since then, retail spending had increased in accordance with the individual steps within the government roadmap and up to 80% of normal trading activity was being seen in August 2021.


The LBB Economic Development Manager informed  Members that there were seven key aspirations within the Economic Development Strategy: Education and Skills; Employment Spaces; Helping Businesses Thrive; High Streets for the Future; Connectivity and Mobility; Enhancement of Tourism and Culture Industries; and Working Towards a Green Economy.


Members had been provided with a summary of the projects being undertaken; the achievements in Q2; and priority actions to be completed in Q3.


RESOLVED that the update be noted.

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