South Yorkshire Chamber chiefs unveil Budget wishlist and tell Chancellor 'give us certainty'
South Yorkshire Chamber chiefs have revealed their wishlist as the nation prepares for the most important Budget of a generation.
Businesses have already had one piece of good news - that the furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September.
Now bosses are hoping for the slow withdrawal of business support - in line with the reopening of the country - and no new tax rises which they say could hamper growth and a real commitment to levelling up the North.
Andrew Denniff, chief executive of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber said the challenge for the Chancellor would be to balance the books without stifling the first green shoots of recovery.
He added: “Now, perhaps more than ever, businesses need certainty. The support packages announced in 2020 did provide a lifeline to many; but cutting that support too quickly, or even adding new tax rises into the mix will not only saddle Britain’s struggling businesses with a double-whammy of debt but take many to the very brink.
“The Chancellor must think about long term recovery rather than a short-term cash grab.
“During my conversations with businesses across our region, the scale on which many are fighting for their very survival cannot be under-estimated, placing future investment and recruitment plans on hold.
“I would like to see the Chancellor lay out a clear timetable detailing how support delivered through schemes like furlough and business rate relief will be gradually withdrawn, affording businesses time to plan and prepare.”
Dan Fell, chief executive of Doncaster Chamber, said too many companies had fallen through the cracks of support.
He added: “We are looking for the Chancellor to put long-term and generous support in place for challenged businesses.
“We are also keen to see additional support measures for those sectors hit the hardest – such as aviation, the arts, retail, hospitality and so forth – and that are unlikely to get back to any semblance of normal before the end of this calendar year.
“If corporation tax is to increase, this must be in tandem with long overdue business rates reform and a raft of new incentives – including ones to support net zero ambitions – to encourage good economic growth.
“Finally, the Budget also provides an opportunity for Government to honour its 2019 election commitments to ‘level up’ the UK. This promise needs to move beyond rhetoric to bona fide commitment and action that will catalyse growth in economies like South Yorkshire. “Specifically we would welcome commitment to infrastructure spending on projects such as Gateway East, a new hospital in Doncaster, a green housing programme and additional investment in education and support for young people to ensure that those hit hardest by the pandemic can play a meaningful role in our economy going forwards.”
Responding to an announcement by The Treasury that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended until the end of September, Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said it showed the Chancellor had listened to business.
He added: “Many firms will be breathing a huge sigh of relief, particularly those businesses that are still closed or facing reduced demand due to Covid-19 restrictions.