As snow continues to cover the UK, the impact of the bad weather conditions could cost the economy almost £500m. The snow impacts businesses, schools and the transport systems, with up to a third of the UK’s workforce being unable to get to work. If the weather continues then the impact on the economy continues too.
The cold weather triggers the governments ‘cold weather payment’, which with current conditions almost 2 million people will have already received it last week, which cost £50m. Payments go to those that are on Pensions Credits and other income related benefits – each period of 7 days of cold weather trigger an additional payment of £25.00 to help families keep warm.
Some of the coldest areas so far this year have been in Aviemore, Braemar, and Lock Glasgarnoch in the Scottish Highlands. These areas have all received payments on four occasions so far this winter. There have also been a number of areas in England too that qualified for payment such as Bingley, Sheffield, Norwich, Nottingham, Bedford and High Wycome, along with Capel Curig, Lake Vyrnwy and Sennybridge in Wales.
The snowy conditions have come at a time when the economy is growing at a 1% annual rate and it will not take much for it to start to fall backwards. Industries such as construction and retail will be the worst affected. Back in 2010 when the snow was treacherous for some areas of the country and for weeks at a time, the construction industry was down by 3.3%. Construction becomes very vulnerable to bad weather conditions and retail is affected too.
With a tough December in spending official retail figures were showing a 0.3% fall in total sales in December compared with the month before so with the weather as it currently is, it will not take much for a further drop in spend for this month. With Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster forced to the Administrators already this year, it could be a testing time for Britain’s high streets.