The Government needs to improve infrastructure here in the South West if our region is to realise its full potential, says the British Chambers of Commerce South West (BCCSW).
Rishi Sunak will set out the Government’s financial strategy this Wednesday (March 23) when he delivers his Spring Statement.
The last two spring announcements have heavily featured financial packages to help businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, this time the Chancellor will be expected to take steps to tackle the rising cost of living, as well as giving an update on inflation which is expected to rise even higher in the coming months.
Concerns over the cost of doing business have been highlighted by firms, and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), for many months.
The BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey for Q4 2021 found that 58% of firms expect their prices to increase in the next three months – the highest on record.
The percentage expecting an increase rises dramatically to 77% for production and manufacturing firms, 74% for retailers and wholesalers, 72% for construction firms, and 69% for transport and distribution firms.
The ongoing energy crisis is also having a significant impact on consumers and businesses who are facing a sustained period of soaring prices.
Businesses have been hit by steep rises in their energy bills, with further increases likely as existing fixed-tariff contracts come to an end in the coming months.
Further to existing cost pressures and the humanitarian impact, the Russian invasion of Ukraine risks a significant shock to the world economy by weakening global demand, increasing inflationary pressures, damaging international financial markets and adversely impacting the UK and local economies.
The BCCSW represents thousands of companies here in the South West. The organisation’s Chair, Stuart Elford, said: “The region lags behind the rest of the country in several areas, including education, income, and productivity.
“One of the root causes of this is the poor infrastructure. We cannot attract the sort of private sector inward investment that will raise aspiration and wages while increasing productivity until the connectivity, both physical and digital, are significantly improved.
“Recognising the South West as a powerhouse that leads on the blue/green economy and government putting money towards that would help to truly level up the regional economy and start the journey towards the region realising its potential.”