Shropshire Chamber of Commerce said there was much for the county to welcome in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s autumn budget.

Chief executive Richard Sheehan said: “With rising energy costs, higher raw material prices, mounting debt as a result of the pandemic and tax increases due, many firms are facing a cashflow squeeze.

“So some of the measures which have been introduced this afternoon will certainly be welcomed.”

Mr Sheehan said the 50% one-year discount in business rates for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors would make a significant difference to many Shropshire companies.

And he said the small producers’ relief for alcohol producers could boost the county’s many artisan beer and cider makers, with the new draught relief on beer duty also helping struggling pubs.

And with petrol prices at record highs, he said the freeze on fuel duty and cancellation of the planned rise in fuel duty would be viewed as some small comfort to drivers.

“There is no doubt that the 8% cut in Universal Credit taper rate for those who are in work will also make a significant difference for the county’s lowest paid workers,” he said.

On the rise in the National Minimum Wage, Mr Sheehan added: “While businesses support the minimum wage, the size of this increase will cause concern, especially with so many smaller firms already struggling.

“There is a limit to how much more firms can continue to absorb rising costs before they have to raise their own prices adding to inflationary pressures.

“We believe it is therefore vital that companies are not faced with any further up-front costs for the remainder of this Parliament.

“If businesses are to lead our economic recovery, they need room to breathe, time rebuild their finances, and the confidence and capacity to invest, including in the training and development of their people.”

Mr Sheehan added: “We have just revealed the results of our latest quarterly economic survey, and one of the biggest ‘fear factors’ among Shropshire business is rising inflation.

“So there will clearly be some concern at the Chancellor’s comments that the current 3.1% rate – already the highest for a long time - is likely to rise further before a predicted fall. This needs to be closely monitored.”

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, added: “The Chancellor has listened to Chambers’ long-standing calls for changes to the business rates system and this will be good news for many firms.

“It will provide much needed relief for businesses across the country, giving many firms renewed confidence to invest and grow.

“Additional investment in skills, infrastructure and better access to finance will be key drivers for our economic recovery and will provide longer-term benefits and opportunities for businesses across the country.

“Businesses have been battered by 18 months of the pandemic and problems around supply chain costs and disruption, labour shortages, price rises, soaring energy bills and taxes, and there may still be difficult months ahead.

"If firms face unexpected bumps in the road, the Chancellor must be prepared to  take further action  to enable the economy to fire on all cylinders again.”