The summer holidays are really upon us now and can't you tell the difference on the roads in the morning!

Its amazing how we seem to have "clicked back" to times when we hadn’t heard of COVID – although I hear there is still a lot of people testing positive thanks to our medical professionals people don’t seem to be getting as seriously ill as they were before.

However other big issues businesses face are the cost of living and interest rates.

As an employers our members are still having pressures from employees for inflation linked pay rises, they also have rising interest rates which compounds their fight to charge at a competitive rate fuelling inflation further or take a cut in margins which can seriously impact on the profitability and therefore viability of a business.

Many employers feel they have little option but to increase wages because recruiting staff is still really difficult and the number of people claiming Out-of-Work Benefits in St Albans City and District in July 2023 is 1,790 people (2.0 per cent) which is 45 more people than in June 2023 and 35 fewer than in July 2022.

These statistics remain consistently low for the district and we are consistently in the bottom 50 in the country for numbers claiming these benefits.

At Rayner Essex in our payroll team and also in our business advisory team and from speaking to lawyers and restricting businesses in St Albans we are beginning to see settlement agreements and redundancies and businesses struggling with increased debt in certain sectors suggesting that things might be changing…we will see.

On a happier note the Chamber board and the award sponsors are carrying out interviews for our Community Business Awards being held in November.

The competition is very high this year and the judging is proving difficult. I look forward to seeing all the finalists and the winners at Tewinbury Farm.

Finally I am so looking forward to our golf day on September 27. This is being held at Rebourn Golf Club and bookings are being taken for both teams and individuals. We are grateful to EIC insurance for their sponsorship for this event.

I hope to meet and chat to you at any of our events. More details for all of these events can be found on our website