Responding to the new Chancellor’s statement, Paul Slevin, Executive Chair of Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:
“Following the economic instability since the fiscal event announced by his predecessor, the new Chancellor needed to reset and present clear plans for the future.
“However, many businesses in Wales will be disappointed by the short-term outlook of today’s statement, especially regarding the changes to energy relief from April. Energy costs, alongside increasing inflation and interest rates, are a major concern for business owners and the government needs to engage with businesses to provide certainty regarding support in this area in the long-term.
“Consultation with firms must be a priority for the Chancellor. We understand that he has a delicate balancing act to carry out; reassuring the markets to prevent further damage to business and consumer confidence while providing stability for businesses and promoting opportunities for growth.
“This is why it is imperative that the government takes time to understand the challenges facing businesses by speaking to firms across the country, for example through the Chamber network.
“We agree with the British Chambers of Commerce who state that ‘people run businesses and businesses rely on people. The government is failing to fully understand that the cost of living and cost of doing business crises are two sides of the same coin’. By engaging with businesses, the government can demonstrate how serious it is about helping businesses and their people through these crises and beyond. The time to act is now.”
Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said:
“The Chancellor’s buzzword was stability. But what we’ve seen from him is a plan for today and nothing for tomorrow.
“Following the economic turmoil of the last few weeks he had to press the reset button.
“But businesses will be dismayed by the decision that looks set to strip back the energy support for firms from next April. This will be a hammer blow for many who were already worried about how they will survive.
“The government must commit to a full consultation with firms ahead of that cliff-edge to provide some certainty on where any targeted support will go. Energy costs keep business owners awake at night, alongside rising inflation and interest rates.
“Keeping support for the NICs reversal in place will be some relief for hard-pressed firms, but on its own will not be enough.
“The Chancellor has a delicate balancing act to carry out. He must restore order to the markets if he is to prevent further damage to business and consumer confidence. But if he is serious about stability and growth, he must speak to our Chamber Network to truly understand the pressures firms face.
“People run businesses and businesses rely on people. The Government is failing to fully understand that the cost of living and cost of doing business crises are two sides of the same coin. We still need a clear vision on how it will support firms and the communities that rely on them to thrive.
“It must be clear in how it plans to do this, to prove it is serious about helping businesses through the difficult months ahead. Time is of the essence.”