Member Article

Regional business leaders call for Spring Statement help from the Chancellor

Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire have joined calls for the Chancellor to take decisive action in his Spring Statement to help tackle the escalating cost of doing business.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has backed the British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) five-point plan that would help to support firms through the crisis.

The call comes as businesses are increasingly reporting a crippling burden from a myriad of cost pressures, including rising raw material costs, soaring energy bills and other overheads.

With a week to go, the BCC calls on the government to use the Spring Statement to enact the BCC’s Five Point Plan to Tackle the Cost of Doing Business Crisis.

It includes a delay to the impending National Insurance rise by one year to give firms much-needed financial headroom to weather this unprecedented surge in costs facing businesses and power the recovery.

The plan also calls for a temporary energy price cap for small businesses to protect smaller firms from some of the price increases they would otherwise face, offering the same protection as households. 

The BCC is asking for additional financial support, through the expansion of the energy bills rebate scheme for households to also include small firms and energy intensive businesses, a new support fund, administered by Ofgem to support the smallest firms with their soaring energy bills and a six-month extension to the Recovery Loan Scheme, leaving it in place until the end of 2022.

The plan asks for a moratorium, for the life of this parliament, on all policy measures that increase business costs, including no new business taxes or added regulatory burdens, but excluding only evidence-based changes to the National Living Wage.

And, finally, it wants a commitment from the government’s Supply Chain Advisory Group and Industry Taskforce to continue to work with industry to urgently deliver practical solutions to ease the supply chain disruption and labour shortages that continue to drive the upward pressure on prices.

The Five Point Plan gives firms a chance to stabilise without having to seriously increase their prices, cut jobs or cut the investment that is so vital to sustaining our economic recovery from Covid-19.

The BCC is also calling on energy firms to work more closely with government, business and other key stakeholders to provide more substantial support to help businesses and households to navigate this difficult period.

Sean Rose, head of policy at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The cost of doing business continues to rise and companies need decisive action in next week’s Spring Statement to help them through this period.

“It’s vital that businesses are given the confidence to invest and grow after two years of Covid-19 restrictions that have stifled economic growth. That’s why we are backing the BCC’s five-point plan.”

Shevaun Haviland, Director General at the BCC, said: “The Spring Statement is taking place against a backdrop of soaring uncertainty surrounding both the UK and global economy, so a business-as-usual approach from the Chancellor simply won’t cut it.

“Coming so soon after a Covid-induced squeeze on cashflow and investment plans, the cumulative effect of rising raw material costs, soaring energy bills and other overheads is causing many firms to take cost reduction measures. This is weighing down on their ability to invest, recruit and grow.

“Implementing our five-point plan would help shield firms from the worst of the costs’ crisis - giving them headroom to keep a lid on prices, protect jobs and make investment that is so vital to sustaining our economic prospects.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Matt Joyce .

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