Herefordshire Area Council January Update

The Chamber works closely with businesses across all sizes and sectors to ensure that business views are represented to key local and national decision makers. To ensure every sector is represented the Chamber hosts two Area Councils, one in Worcestershire and one in Herefordshire. Each Area Council consists of 15 specialists, from different sectors, who meet six times a year to provide feedback from their respective professions. The feedback is then used to inform our economic reports and shape the policy activity we deliver to Member businesses.

If you want to find out more about your sector representative or get in touch to ensure your views are shared at the next meeting, click here.

Below is a summary of key sector updates from the latest Herefordshire Area Council meeting.


The discussion focussed on how Covid-19 and EU Exit are affecting businesses in the New Year. There were some common themes shared by all representatives:

  • Covid-19 is causing much more disruption to workforces than it was in 2020 with more people having to self-isolate because of Covid symptoms or the Test and Trace system. Businesses continue to operate in a Covid-secure way, but staff absence is becoming more of a challenge.
  • EU Exit is causing disruption for businesses when importing/exporting to the EU and/or Ireland. There has been a backlog at ports causing delays and shipping costs have increased. This is a bigger problem for industries trading perishable goods such as food. There have been reports of some carriers temporarily stopping deliveries between the EU and the UK because of the disruption. The advice is to ensure the export documentation you need is prepared well in advance to avoid further delays.
  • Raw materials prices started to rise at the end of last year and continue to rise. In some cases, there is a shortage of materials.


Food and Drink

The industry always advised that changing the trading relationship with the EU during winter when a lot of fresh food is being traded may cause problems. As goods are perishable any delays in shipping will impact on quality. Although it is still early in the new relationship with the EU and a lot is still unclear, food stocks may decrease and the fresh food shortages we have seen in Northern Ireland may be seen in the rest of the UK going forward. Transport costs have increased, and some companies are not currently travelling between the UK and the EU. As a result, the number of containers travelling through Dover is much lower than last year.


Covid-19 and EU Exit are causing lots of changes which means the legal sector is busy. Overall the sector has adapted well to Covid restrictions and most businesses have the technology to be able to work from home. The restructuring/insolvency side of legal has understandably increased. Real estate is also strong especially in the residential sector as the Stamp Duty holiday is still in place.


The sector now has Covid-secure operations well embedded, but businesses are still seeing an increase in the number of their staff needing to self-isolate. Sales have been a mixed bag depending on the industry. Those supplying to the leisure and home improvement sectors are doing well as some people have more spare cash that they’re unable to spend in other ways during lockdown. EU Exit has caused disruption to the sector as shipping costs have increased and shipments are taking longer to arrive. There are challenges delivering goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland and some transport companies are not currently travelling between the EU and the UK. Raw materials prices are increasing due to shortages in the supply chain.


Before the pandemic there were a lot of jobs and not very many candidates. Now the opposite is true. Candidates are showing more interest in company culture and being strategic about where they are moving to e.g. considering whether businesses are Covid safe and whether they prioritise health and wellbeing. The number of managers using psychometric profiling has increased as people try to understand their employees core behaviours and how they respond to change. On the whole productivity has increased but profiling gives insight into how to manage staff who need support, for example, more social colleagues that could be struggling with the current restrictions.