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Business bravery is required

Labour shortages remain an issue (with some observers suspecting that the private sector’s loss is the expanding public sector’s gain), making it difficult and more expensive to attract and retain staff on top of demands from employees for pay rises to cover higher taxes and inflation-related costs. And a new Brexit chapter will begin when full customs controls between the UK and the EU come into effect on 1 January against a backdrop of a fairly fractious relationship.

Sluggish economic growth estimates, the curse of the 1 per cent growth rate, are another headache-inducing factor. The Office for Budget Responsibility thinks that while overall scarring of the economy from the pandemic will be just 2 per cent, down from 3 per cent, it predicts annual economic growth rates of 1.5 per cent over the next five years. Growth over the period from July to September fell back to 1.3 per cent, following more buoyant earlier growth immediately after lockdown was lifted.

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