Shropshire Chamber of Commerce is calling on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to use next month’s Budget to develop a ‘sustainable growth plan’ by working in partnership with business.

We have given our backing to a pre-Budget submission from the British Chambers of Commerce calling for the Government to:

  • Match industry-led funding of £3 million for planning qualifications to help plug the lack of local resource.  
  • Commit to fund business led Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) beyond the current 2025 cut off point to at least 2028. 
  • Restart the VAT registration review with a view to removing the existing cliff edge.  
  • Reform business rates to make it a tax that incentives growth. 
  • Introduce a new internationally competitive tax-free shopping scheme.  

Ruth Ross, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber, said: “Businesses are wrestling with many challenging issues right now, and with the clock ticking towards a General Election, they want to see a clear vision.

“Through our work on the Local Skills Improvement Plan for the region, we know that attracting, retaining, and developing people with the right skills is crucial for business - but far too many employers are struggling to do that.

“Our own research, alongside that of the BCC, also reveals that many small firms are struggling because of business rates, while others are limiting their expansion plans because of the VAT threshold. 

“We believe the Chancellor should use his statement next month to announce plans to make rates fairer.”  

Research from the BCC shows that nearly half of businesses with a turnover below £85,000 are concerned about growing revenue because of the requirement it would bring to start paying VAT.

And more than one in three companies say they are now paying more in business rates since the revaluation which took place last year.

The BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey for the final three months of last year showed that while business confidence has improved slightly, most firms continue to report no improvement to sales, cash flow or investment.  

Shevaun Haviland, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “As businesses continue to chart a course through choppy economic waters, they want to work in partnership with Government to get the UK economy growing again.  

“The Chancellor has shown he is in listening mode. At the Autumn Statement we were pleased to see full expensing made permanent and business rate relief.

“The Budget is an opportunity to build on that good work and further accelerate help for business.  

“Our recommendations are solution focused. We’re actively working with industry to develop a UK-wide, private sector funded programme to train more planners to work in local planning authorities, to boost their planning skills and capacity.”