9 minute read 7 Oct 2020
EY Reading train station at night

Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the Thames Valley

By Richard Baker

EY UK&I Thames Valley and South East Managing Partner

Managing Partner for EY’s South East region. Passionate about people development. Experienced coach and sponsor of EY’s UK Coaching and Mentoring network. Long term Reading FC season ticket holder.

9 minute read 7 Oct 2020

This report provides an initial analysis and commentary on how COVID-19 has impacted the Thames Valley and its economy. 

For the past 30 years, the Thames Valley has been one of the UK’s most successful regional economies. The region has grown faster than any other region outside London and, prior to COVID-19, was forecasted to continue outperforming all UK regions throughout 2020, with strength in key sectors including technology, business services and scientific research. Thus, the Thames Valley has been playing an important role in transforming the country’s economy.

As 2020 began the UK received confirmation that Brexit would indeed go ahead, led by a Government with a significant majority. Shortly after that, the world began to feel the impact of COVID-19. This report analyses how the Thames Valley’s strengths and challenges have contributed to its resilience at this time of significant disruption, as well as considers the new threats and potential opportunities that the region now faces.

  • There have been at least 10,096 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded in the Thames Valley, which accounts for 3% of the national total.
  • Of the 10.1k lab-confirmed cases, there have been at least 1k COVID-19 related deaths across the region (equal to 10.2% of total lab-confirmed cases).
  • The forecasted economic impact for the Thames Valley is for a reduction in GVA of 10.07%.
  • Sectors such as professional services, science & technology and information & communications, have weathered the storm, with predicted reductions in GVA growth between 2019 and 2020 of less than 9%. However, sectors such as the arts, entertainment & recreation and the accommodation & food services sectors are each forecast reductions in GVA growth of 23–47% forecasted between 2019 and 2020.
  • Between July and August 2020, 64.3k unemployment-related benefits were recorded, or 2,991 claims per 100k population.

Over the next five years, the Thames Valley’s strong sector mix will likely support the region’s recovery. It is expected that Wokingham will be the fastest growing area in the region, with forecasted GVA growth of 14.11% between 2019 and 2025. Similarly, Windsor and Maidenhead (10.04%) are expected to grow rapidly over the medium-term, in line with London (10.10%) from a GVA growth perspective.

The medium-term outlook for the Thames Valley remains strong, with the most prominent sectors in the region expected to recover from COVID-19 at a faster pace than many other affected UK regions.

Summary

This report provides an initial analysis and commentary on how COVID-19 has impacted the Thames Valley and its economy as of August 2020. We explore how the region’s strengths and challenges have influenced its response at this time of significant disruption, as well as consider the new threats and potential opportunities that the region now faces.

About this article

By Richard Baker

EY UK&I Thames Valley and South East Managing Partner

Managing Partner for EY’s South East region. Passionate about people development. Experienced coach and sponsor of EY’s UK Coaching and Mentoring network. Long term Reading FC season ticket holder.