Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), Shevaun Haviland, urged the Government to take action to save the economy as the cost of doing business crisis continues to worsen.
She spoke at the BCC’s Global Annual Conference 2022. In her keynote address, she urged Government to take action following the ‘missed opportunity’ of the Spring Statement.
She also emphasised the need for cooperation over confrontation to avoid a summer of disruption which will only further deepen the UK’s economic woes.
ON THE ECONOMY
Shevaun said: “Increasing costs of raw materials over last summer, supply chain and shipping issues, problems in recruiting people, and by this March, spiralling energy prices. It really is the perfect storm for businesses, firmly putting the brakes on recovery.
“This has to change; we are on limited time. The Government has until the autumn budget to reset, rethink and get their house in order.
“First, they need to put in place support for businesses now to weather this storm. And, secondly, they need to work in partnership with us to develop a long-term economic strategy for growth.
“Sustainable growth is the best way to bring money back into the Exchequers coffers, to pay for our NHS and our schools, and to build resilient communities.”
ON A SUMMER OF DISCONTENT
She said: “Last week we were all impacted by the train strikes and we understand that people are worried about paying their bills.
“It’s a challenging time for everyone, and the solution will come from cooperation not confrontation, because the consequences of ongoing strikes will have a major impact on everyone; businesses will struggle, people will lose out and the economy will suffer.”
ON LABOUR SHORTAGES
She said a long-term plan to solve skills shortages was needed but immediate action was also vital: “We are already seeing a drag on growth due to the lack of people in our labour market. With four out of five firms telling us they’re finding it difficult to recruit, too many businesses are struggling to find the people they need to succeed and grow. In the short-term, Government can do more to help firms fill their gaps, including an urgent review of the Shortage Occupation List.”
Emphasising the need to boost British exports and trade, Shevaun added: “A long-term plan for growth must include growing British exports. Trade is a powerful force for good, and we are working hand in glove with the Government on further discussions with countries across the globe, including India, Canada, and the Gulf Corporation Council.
“We must see UK-EU relations stabilise and improve. We need to reduce the red tape and cost burdens currently placed on British businesses to ensure smoother exporting through the TCA.”