A business leader is backing calls for urgent action from new Prime Minister Liz Truss to support local firms amid fears of a recession.
Martin Hathaway, managing director of the Huddersfield-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, warned of an “economic crisis” and said: “Urgent action is essential to support businesses and communities in our region.
“Recent research from our Quarterly Economic Survey showed a drop in business confidence, investment and sales in our region which requires urgent action.
“If businesses aren’t looking ahead with confidence and being able to invest, our economy could be seriously damaged.
“I am eager to work with Liz Truss’s new government and local authorities to drive forward the Levelling Up agenda with a fresh approach.
“To truly level up our regions of Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield we need a dedicated and realistic plan from government to ensure the country thrives as a whole, uniting all regions across our nation to drive economic success.
“Our chamber stands with the British Chambers of Commerce in a call for action on a five-point plan, proposed in August to the Treasury.”
The BCC five-point plan to support businesses includes the following measures:
- Ofgem to be given more power to strengthen regulation of the energy market for businesses;
- Temporary cut in VAT to 5% to reduce energy costs for businesses;
- Covid-style support by introducing Government Emergency Energy Grant for SMEs;
- Temporarily reverse NICs and put money back into the pockets of businesses and workers;
- Government to immediately review and reform the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) to help bring down wage pressures and fill staffing vacancies.
Sarah Howard, chair of the BCC, said: “The last few months have been difficult for everyone. Time is running out and urgent action is needed to deal with the costs crisis.
“We believe the country has already entered a recession and that inflation will hit at least 14% in the months ahead.
“Like households, firms have been telling us of unsustainable rises in their energy bills and how difficult it is to find new fixed term contracts to buffer against further price hikes.
“Unless the new Prime Minister addresses these problems head-on then the economy will drift further into dangerous waters and the outlook for both businesses and consumers will be bleak indeed.”