Paul Slevin, President of Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:
“We welcome the changes made in the statement that continue to support businesses. However, the Chamber believes that the statement falls short by not offering adequate support to help businesses currently experiencing the ‘cost of doing business’ crisis.
“We welcome the R&D tax credits for businesses in manufacturing as Wales is a strong manufacturing base for the UK and acknowledge that the Chancellor has made a step in the right direction to sustaining an economic recovery. However, the policy described in the statement does not consider Welsh businesses that are already struggling financially and paints a grim picture for the near future.
“We appreciate after significant financial assistance in recent years with the pandemic, that the Chancellor is trying to balance the books, but now businesses face a new crisis. The focus must be on active stimulus and investment for struggling businesses, not penny pinching. Businesses are facing a crisis right now and they need help right now, not in years to come when many of the statement’s policies will come into effect.
“Overheads have massively increased due to energy and fuel costs, with raw material prices ever increasing. As a result, already slim margins are being eaten into. The Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey for Q1 2022 states that 68.75% of businesses in Wales expect their prices to increase in the next three months, with 74% feeling pressure to raise prices due to raw material costs. Furthermore, inflation was listed as the most concerning factor for businesses in the near future, with a predicted rise as high as 8%. Businesses are also facing the energy crisis, increasing costs for businesses with already limited resources.
“The cost-of-living crisis will continue to have a significant effect on businesses across Wales, as rising inflation undercuts confidence and businesses engagement, causing further shortfalls.
“The Chancellor’s statement is moving in the right direction, with a strong plan to invest in Britain, but the positive steps made don’t match the economic hardship businesses are currently facing. Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid recognises the many positives of working with both the UK and Welsh Governments and will continue to do so to ensure that Welsh businesses receive the support and resources that they need.”