Commerce

Firms need help to weather ‘perfect storm’ – BCC leader



The Government is being urged to put in place support for businesses to help firms weather a “perfect storm” of spiralling costs and problems recruiting workers.

Shevaun Haviland, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said action is needed to save the economy as the cost of doing business crisis continues to worsen.

She was telling the BCC’s annual conference in London that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement was a “missed opportunity” as she warned ministers not to impose any more tax increases on businesses.

“Increasing costs of raw materials over last summer, supply chain and shipping issues, problems in recruiting people, and, by this March, spiralling energy prices. It really is the perfect storm for businesses, firmly putting the brakes on recovery.

“This has to change; we are on limited time. The Government has until the autumn Budget to reset, rethink and get their house in order.

“First, they need to put in place support for businesses now to weather this storm, and they need to work in partnership with us to develop a long-term economic strategy for growth.”

She called for a long-term plan to solve skills shortages as well as immediate action as firms continue to struggle to recruit staff.

“We are already seeing a drag on growth due to the lack of people in our labour market.

“With four out of five firms telling us they’re finding it difficult to recruit, too many businesses are struggling to find the people they need to succeed and grow.

“In the short term, Government can do more to help firms fill their gaps, including an urgent review of the Shortage Occupation List.”

She said that UK-EU relations must improve, adding: “We need to reduce the red tape and cost burdens currently placed on British businesses to ensure smoother exporting.”

The director-general demanded that the Chancellor does not impose rises on business taxes ahead of his corporation tax increase from 19% to 25% next April.

“If we want to give businesses the headroom to invest and grow there must be no more business tax increases for the duration of this Parliament,” Ms Haviland said.

Mr Sunak went on to address the conference, telling business leaders there are “challenging times ahead of us” as he discussed previous tax cuts.



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