As companies up and down the UK continue to struggle with escalating inflation and economic uncertainty, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has been warned that time is running out to put together the financial support package that would save ‘UK plc’ from a “perfect storm” of potentially catastrophic circumstances.
“They need to put in place support for businesses now”
As reported by The Guardian and elsewhere, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) director general Shevaun Haviland said as part of her speech at the business group’s annual conference that there was an urgent need for the Chancellor to support such firms.
The event provided the assembled UK business figures with an opportunity to reflect on the turbulence of the last few years, and to consider what firms can do to develop new talent, build a green economy, and make the most of new opportunities.
There was no doubt among such professionals about the monumental pressure currently being placed upon the UK economy. Inflation has reached its highest levels since the early 1980s, having already surpassed 9% in May, amid predictions that it will peak above 11% in the autumn.
As well as inflation, businesses have been held back in their efforts to survive and thrive by difficulties in their efforts to find the skills they need, as well as constraints on supply chains.
It can be no great surprise, then, that Haviland had strong words for the Government in her speech. While she said that the Government had listened to the demands of businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, she expressed fears about “a clear lack of strategic direction”, and urged ministers to provide the support that UK firms needed if they were to “weather this storm”.
“They need to put in place support for businesses now,” she said, adding: “We are on limited time. The Government has until the Autumn Budget to reset, rethink, and get their house in order.”
How has the Government reacted to calls for better business support?
For his part, Mr Sunak was present at the conference and said in an interview with Haviland that the Autumn Budget would see the Government set out a further round of incentives for UK firms to invest at this challenging time.
He explained: “We know how important business investment will be to our recovery, so we want to make sure that the Autumn Budget will continue to support that.”
Among the Government’s moves, said Mr Sunak, will be the replacement of the “super deduction” scheme, which incentivises companies’ investment in productivity-enhancing technology and assets by offering relief on their tax bills.
Mr Sunak said of that scheme: “It was temporary, and it expires next spring. But what we’re committed to doing is finding a more permanent replacement for the super deduction, which will continue to strongly incentivise business investment.”
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