Chamber welcomes the commitment to investment
PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 December 2016
sarah lucy brown
Town Topics with Greater Ipswich Chamber
Like most Autumn Statements, it will take a while to really understand the detail of this year’s announcements.
Yet whilst we wait to see the details beneath the headlines, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce broadly welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment to increase investment in productivity, roads, rail, digital infrastructure and export support for SMEs.
All of these formed part of the Autumn Statement ‘asks’ from our national body, the British Chambers of Commerce. The fact that the Chancellor chose to commit significant new resources to support growth and productivity demonstrates a welcome flexibility during a period of uncertainty and change for the UK economy.
These projects are important in themselves in building up our economy’s competitiveness and because such projects will boost business confidence and supply chain opportunities.
It is now critical for these upgrades to begin without delay, as they are crucial not just to business confidence, but also to local and national growth prospects.
Transport improvements have positive knock-on effects, as they open up supply chains, generate thousands of new contracts for UK businesses, as well as enhance access to labour and new markets.
While we want to see ‘quick start’ projects delivered, we also need a long-term outlook. For that reason, business wants the government and the National Infrastructure Commission to plan for the delivery of major projects that can help prepare the economy for the future.
We remain particularly determined that Suffolk will receive more than just the crumbs from the table of these announcements. As part of one of the few English regions that contributes more in tax revenues to the Treasury than we get back, it is important for the whole country that we get a fair share of what’s being offered.
The news that there will be funding for the Suffolk Energy Gateway along the A12 is certainly a positive and welcome development in this regard.
We will continue to represent the interests of our members and indeed the whole of county’s business community to ministers, MPs and other decision-makers to ensure that Suffolk isn’t overlooked.
We also welcome the news regarding the lower cap on annual increases for business rates.
This will be especially welcomed by the many rural businesses in Suffolk. However, businesses as a whole will continue to pay the highest local property taxes in the developed world. Addressing this upfront burden is essential if they are to invest more in training, recruitment and growth plans – all essential to closing the ‘productivity gap’.
Suffolk has a dynamic and broad-based economy and an increasingly confident and can-do attitude. We just need Government to give us the tools to do better what we are already doing well for UK PLC and to lift some of the unnecessary burdens imposed on us.
Catherine Johnson, chair Suffolk of Chamber of Commerce in Greater Ipswich