Sara’s Blog: Latest inflation figure woes and a scheme to help fill vital job vacancies

Sara Williams

The Office for National Statistics inflation figures for June 2022 were published earlier this week showing a rise in Consumer Prices Index inflation of 10.1%, the tenth consecutive monthly increase and another record high.

This higher-than-expected inflation increase, alongside eye-watering energy prices, confirms the severity of the cost of doing business crisis.

This squeeze on businesses’ operating costs is also reflected in the latest Producer Price Inflation figures which show a 22.6% rise in the year to July 2022, which remains among the highest levels since records began in 1985.

The difference between input and output inflation illustrates that many firms are absorbing as much of these additional costs as they can. However, there is a limit to how much additional cost firms can absorb, and it is also limiting growth and investment.

British Chambers of Commerce research shows that two out of three firms expect to raise their own prices in the coming months, with utilities, labour costs, and raw materials all cited as the main drivers of costs. Staffordshire firms have been telling us about this inflation shock for almost two years.

Businesses want to support their people, they want to invest and grow, and they don’t want to put prices up for their customers – but they are left with little choice.

The Government should act and has levers to pull to give vital support to businesses now.

The two immediate and impactful choices would be to review and reform the Shortage Occupations List to help fill the 1.3 million job vacancies and bring businesses’ energy costs down by lowering the VAT rate from 20% to 5%.

Staffordshire Chambers through the BCC are telling the Government that it’s time for action and we’re offering solutions. It’s time for Government to listen.

More information on the ONS inflation data can be found here.

And whilst we are talking filling job vacancies, I would like to talk about our Positive Pathways scheme which is geared towards getting refugees into work and helping to ease the current skills and vacancies crisis.

I would urge all employers in Staffordshire to consider taking on refugees, many of whom have the vital skills much in demand by employers.

Positive Pathways is a business start-up and employability skills programme based here at the Chambers, specifically designed to support refugees across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Participants can access training in employability skills such as CV writing and interview skills ready to be matched to local employers.

We currently have around 150 skilled refugees desperately wanting employment who would like to make a positive contribution to their host country.

For example, we have a marketing director, a cookery teacher who worked on a TV show, a dentist who has practiced for 20 years in Ukraine and a leading economist from a bank. Other skillsets available include medical staff, including a pharmacist, a psychologist, banking, administration, purchasing, catering, warehouse staff, accounting, transport & logistics, graphic design, and marketing.

With lots of employers struggling to fill job vacancies impacting firms’ ability to operate normally and retain skills in the business, we can offer a solution as we have contact with refugees locally with the skillsets that local employers need.

We are looking to engage with employers who would consider interviewing a refugee for the vacancies they are currently finding difficulty filling.

The Positive Pathways team assist with all the hard work such as selection, application and help with arranging interview. All you need to do is call or email us with your vacancies.

If you would like to find out more about how Positive Pathways could benefit your business, please contact Julie Priestnall:  or call 01782 202222

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email:

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