The Chancellor must take bold steps to unlock the untapped potential of UK business if the economy is to weather continued global headwinds.
BCC research shows less than a quarter of firms are investing, as fears over high inflation and interest rates, alongside concerns around trade barriers and skills shortages, continue to bite.
The BCC Autumn Statement submission has 23 recommendations and includes five major policy calls that could put the economy on the best footing possible to absorb further shocks. They are:
- Reforming the planning system to speed up infrastructure projects and give businesses much needed room to grow.
- Introducing a rolling five-year guarantee for the continuation of the full expensing tax break, to increase take up.
- Upgrading the energy grid to unlock new business development and investment.
- Extending business rates relief for hospitality and retail businesses, freezing the multiplier, and looking at reforming the system to better reflect firms’ ability to pay.
- Introducing tax breaks to encourage firms to offer Occupational Health benefits that keep people in work.
Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said:
“Businesses are holding onto their money as inflation remains stubbornly high and fears over further interest rate rises continue.
“With the ongoing war in Ukraine and the awful new developments in the Middle East there is real concern over oil prices and further turmoil in the wider financial markets.
“This is likely to further impact the Chancellor’s headroom to provide any fiscal stimulus. But we think there are some options open to him that could make a real difference without breaking the bank.
“Businesses have told us they have billions of pounds in private investment waiting to be pumped into the UK economy, but our creaking planning system and overloaded grid are holding that back.
“It’s vital we unlock this money and take steps to put British business in the best place possible to remain competitive in the global marketplace and weather any further shocks.
“Business confidence is in a much better place than it was a year ago. But the pandemic, the energy costs crisis and higher interest rates all mean firms are less resilient than they were.
“If we invest more in our energy grid network then private funds will follow and there will be a multiplier effect that will ripple out across the UK’s supply chains.”