Budget: Shropshire chamber welcomes skills plan but fears remain on energy bills

Shropshire Chamber of Commerce has welcomed moves in the Budget designed to tackle the skills shortage which it says is ‘blighting the economy’.

Ruth Ross
Ruth Ross

But the Chamber believes that concerns remain about whether enough has been done on energy bills to help the many smaller businesses across the county who are ‘fighting to survive’.

Ruth Ross, Shropshire Chamber’s deputy chief executive, said: “The Chancellor (Jeremy Hunt) has clearly felt the need to act to address the unfilled jobs blighting our economy, which was so badly needed.

“Help on childcare costs, and extra incentives designed to entice more over-50s back into the workplace are also to be welcomed.

“And for companies which were concerned at the rise in corporation tax, it was also reassuring to hear that some of this can be offset against research and development costs.”

She added: “The jury is out, though, on whether enough has been done to ease the pressure which Shropshire businesses are facing with their energy bills.

“Our quarterly survey results show that many will struggle to pay their bills in April, and say they cannot invest for the future when they are simply fighting a cashflow battle to survive.

“There appears to be little in this Budget statement that will provide much comfort to these businesses – apart from the predicted sharp fall in inflation later this year.”

The British Chambers of Commerce has repeatedly called for reforms to business rates, but Ruth said the Government had failed to deliver.

“We agree with the BCC when it says that the Government must shift the dial further on investment, both within the UK and from overseas, if innovative growth industries are to remain competitive on a global stage.”

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