Shropshire Chamber of Commerce is backing a five-point plan which the Government is being urged to put into place to provide urgent support for struggling businesses.

The British Chambers of Commerce has outlined a series of measures in a letter to the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Tory party leadership candidates.

It calls for:

  • Energy regulator Ofgem to be given more power to strengthen regulation of the energy market for businesses  
  • A temporary cut in VAT to 5% to reduce energy costs for businesses  
  • Covid-style support for businesses with Government Emergency Energy Grant for SMEs  
  • Temporary reversal of the National Insurance rise, putting money back into the pockets of businesses and workers.
  • An immediate review and reform the Shortage Occupation List to help bring down wage pressures and fill staffing vacancies 

Shropshire Chamber deputy chief executive Ruth Ross said the cost-of-living crisis and the cost-of-doing business crisis were two sides of the same coin.

“With the Bank of England projecting a recession and consumer confidence reported to have hit a 50-year low, it’s clear that we are running out of time to offer businesses the support they need.”

Shropshire Chamber has just launched its latest quarterly economic survey, which forms part of the UK’s largest fact-finding exercise gauging the confidence and health of the business community.

It is keen to build up a comprehensive picture of the situation in Shropshire, to see if it mirrors the nationwide mood. To add your views to the survey, following this link:

Ruth Ross said: “Over the last 18 months, research across the Chamber network has shown unprecedented inflationary pressures hitting businesses.

“So it comes as no real surprise that two thirds of firms say they are now expecting further price rises, driven by energy bills, raw materials, and labour costs.”

Shropshire Chamber said it was also ‘worrying’ that the percentage of firms expecting to grow in the next 12 months appears to be now showing a significant decline.

“Firms cannot afford to wait another month without practical support measures being put in place. Now is the time for action, which is why we are supporting this five-point plan.” 

Shevaun Haviland, director general of the BCC, said: “Since the start of 2021 we have been repeatedly hearing the same message: the cost-of-doing-business is increasing.   

“At over 10%, CPI inflation is at a 40-year high; interest rates are seeing the largest increase in 27 years; and eye watering energy bills have created a perfect storm of increasing costs. The impact of these challenges on consumers, businesses and wider society cannot be overstated.  

“The BCC’s five-point plan is not solely about ensuring support for businesses. It is also about protecting jobs, securing livelihoods, and creating a vibrant and prosperous society for everyone.  

“Good business is good for our communities, and we must support firms and the individuals that run them to ride out this economic storm.”