COLUMN: Knight’s Days with Sir Greg Knight MP – Changes can bring short-term grief
For as long as I can remember, the main issue of political debate surrounding the British economy has been the question of jobs.
Irrespective of which party was in power, the opposition of the day would always claim that not enough was being done on the job creation front to help reduce UK unemployment.
However, today, we are facing a situation where the biggest threat to our economic recovery is a lack of workers to fill already existing vacancies.
Recent statistics show that the number of vacancies has exceeded one million for the first time since records began and this has serious consequences. Many businesses now have low stock levels of products, there is a long-standing and on-going shortage of lorry and tanker drivers and even some warehouse vacancies, where minimal training is required, remain unfilled.
It is of little comfort to be told that other countries are having the same post-pandemic problems. France, Germany and Spain are all finding their economies are facing some disruption, so no Government in the world has yet found a quick or easy answer.
The situation is being made worse in the short term as many economies accelerate back into growth as they recover from the Covid-19 economic doldrums. With rising economic activity running faster than the jobs market can catch up, it may only be a transient problem for some sectors, but it is an issue that is far more than just irritating.
In some cases, it is becoming livelihood threatening.
Not all of the answers are under the control of government, but Ministers do need to continue to focus on this issue as their top priority as our recovery continues to gather pace.
My father always used to say when considering buying a new product: “Wait until it’s been on the market a while, otherwise you are buying the teething problems as well.”
This advice is particularly true when buying a brand-new model of motor vehicle.
The Government and most of the media are currently praising the virtues of electric vehicles and they have been around long enough now for most teething problems to have been ironed out.
But what about the infrastructure they require? There is evidence that some electric vehicle owners can be paying out money they could avoid, when charging their electric vehicle at some new outlets.
Most electric car drivers are tempted to look for the fastest charger available and no wonder. Using a typical charge, it can take many hours to recharge vehicle, whereas an ultra-rapid one may take only 35 minutes or so to get the battery up to 80% charge.
But rapid chargers cost thousands of pounds to install.
A number of electric vehicle owners have been shocked to discover that by using some ultra-rapid chargers in city centres, they are still paying virtually as much for charging their electric vehicle than they were for fuelling their old diesel car.
Also, when driving electric, you currently have to plan your journey around the problem of where the limited number of re-charging stations are based.
The latest generation of electric cars are clearly the way of the future, but the fledgling infrastructure surrounding their use still needs to develop a while yet before it would meet my father’s test!