THOUSANDS of new jobs will see Swindon bounce back from the coronavirus crisis and help lead the way for the rest of the UK.

A new report suggests the town will have the fourth-fastest employment growth in the country this year - quicker than Oxford, Edinburgh and Doncaster.

Only Cambridge and the Welsh cities of Cardiff and Swansea are expected to recover slightly better.

The Powerhouse report predicts 2,400 new jobs created in Swindon by the last quarter of 2021 and its overall economy will grow by 7.4 per cent.

Almost two thirds of UK towns and cities in the report are not expected to increase their employment levels this year - but Swindon is one of the few who will.

Paddy Bradley is part of the Switch On To Swindon initiative which aims to attract investment to the town by highlighting its many positives.

And he is chair of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which supports businesses of all sizes around the borough and wider county.

He said: “Swindon has always had the capacity to bounce back not just to where it was before, but beyond that.

“There’s a can-do attitude in the area and there’s so much to offer, it’s welcoming and well-connected for businesses who create jobs and wealth.

“Private sector-led economies like Swindon’s are hit hardest first in a recession but always one of the first to to come out of them.

“We have a great and growing tech sector, well-established financial services businesses, and a lot of pharmaceutical manufacturing - and we are well-positioned for logistics companies who deliver goods ordered online.”

The town centre’s shops saw a surge in sales after most of them reopened a few weeks ago. The inSwindon BID works with retailers to promote the area.

Director Anita Bellinger said: “We are delighted Swindon is one of the towns set to lead the nation’s economic recovery.

“Swindon is incredibly fortunate to have a talented and dynamic workforce who have resolutely kept up with the ever-evolving market changes.

“The town centre has already welcomed 24 new businesses during Covid-19, more are due to open in a couple of weeks and on into the summer.

“It is a magnet for new independents, with invested passion and drive, and community partnerships who are helping to change the face of the town centre.”

Swindon Borough Council leader David Renard welcomed the report’s predictions.

He said: “There have been a number of reports recently showing that the Swindon economy is well placed to build back strongly and I welcome that analysis.

“There is clearly confidence in the business community and a recognition that Swindon is open for business with millions of pounds being invested by the private sector now and commitments of more in the future.

“Government has recognised the growth potential and dynamic approach of Swindon, with millions of pounds of investment in our infrastructure.

“This will secure the town’s future, provide great employment, skills and training opportunities and deliver a great quality of life for our residents.”

The town is home to big employers and well-known brands including Nationwide, Zurich, Intel and WH Smith.

A Nationwide spokeswoman said: “Nationwide is proud to be one of the largest employers in the Swindon with approximately 8,000 people who live in or around the town.

“We have a long history in Swindon - it has been the home to our head office since 1992.

“We are fully committed to the area and continue to invest in our premises including Nationwide House on Pipers Way and our recently opened Ramsbury House in Kembrey Park.”

Swindon’s parliamentary representatives hailed the optimistic outlook of the Powerhouse report.

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: “This is a real vote of confidence in our town and such a welcome boost as the economy recovers from the unprecedented challenges of Covid.

“These expected jobs will be a huge boost for fellow residents and are a reflection of the significant government investment in Swindon and the council’s proactive and welcoming approach to growing businesses who rightly continue to choose to relocate to Swindon.”

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: “As the government’s vaccination programme continues to be rolled out and we follow the roadmap out of Covid restrictions, this important report shows that Swindon is in a very strong position to build back better in 2021.”


The newly-released economic report suggests plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Swindon’s post-pandemic future - but what exactly is it?

The UK Powerhouse report comes from Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

It makes a number of recommendations to tackle the difficulties business will face coming out of lockdown.

These include the need to take advantage of policies to encourage investment and improve skills and local government having bespoke plans in place to support job creation heading out of the Covid-19 crisis, when the furlough scheme ends.

According to the report, Swindon’s strong performance is not replicated across the UK, with only 36 per cent of cities in the report expected to increase employment levels in the 12 months leading to Q4 2021.

It predicts that the town will have 116,300 people employed by the end of the year, which is a year-on-year growth of 2.1 per cent.

This is equivalent with Edinburgh’s expected employment growth, though the city will have a higher number of people employed overall (365,000).

The only three cities that place higher than Swindon in the report’s predicted employment growth rankings are Swansea with a 2.2 per cent growth, Cardiff’s 2.5 per cent growth, and a 2.9 per cent increase in Cambridge.

Swindon ranks above York, Exeter, Oxford, Rotherham and Doncaster in the top 10.

Vicky Brackett is a company partner at Irwin Mitchell and head of the company’s business division.

She said: “Similar to all other towns and cities in the report, Swindon suffered a contraction in the size of its economy during 2020.

“It has recovered very strongly however and by the end of 2021, it is expected to be in the top 10 for GVA growth and job creation.

“Swindon cannot afford to be complacent though.

“With the impact of the end of the furlough scheme expected to have a negative impact on employment, it is clear that local plans for job creation need to be in place before October.

“It is also clear that a resolution to some of the outstanding issues surrounding Brexit can only have a positive impact on the future outlook.

“Supporting those small and medium-sized enterprises in the region who export to the EU will not only enhance the economic output, but can also make a positive contribution to the local jobs market.”