West & North Yorkshire Commerce today calls upon the new Prime Minister of Great Britain Liz Truss to urgently outline steps to help businesses cope with the current economic turmoil and to make good on her pledge to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Having won the Conservative Party leadership election, the Chamber calls on Ms Truss to immediately announce steps to help businesses cope with an economy which is placing thousands of businesses in a perilous situation.
The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) is forecasting that the UK economy will enter recession this year, to be followed by a weak recovery in 2023.
This combined with interest rates being at the highest level in a generation and with inflation expected to skyrocket to 14 per cent by Christmas mean that the need for bold, urgent and targeted action could not be higher.
Failure to do so will mean the end for hundreds if not thousands of businesses across Yorkshire and loss of countless jobs.
The BCC has recommended a five-point plan including abandoning tax hikes and providing grants to help address these colossal challenges which pose an existential threat to all businesses. As Prime Minister Ms Truss must now take these considerations to heart and commit to a package of support measures that allow firms in our region to weather the impending storms and emerge as viable enterprises when the economy returns to growth.
Ms Truss must also make good on her campaign pledges. Having been elected on a platform that included a commitment to build Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) in full she must now action this with a clear timetable as to how and when this vital infrastructure project will be delivered.
After so many broken promises on rail infrastructure, it is now imperative that a clear and comprehensive timeframe for deliverability be outlined at the earliest opportunity.
James Mason, chief executive of West & North Yorkshire Chamber, said: “Under the leadership of the previous Prime Minister, Levelling Up was more of a slogan than actual action and here in our part of the country we want to see a clear and obvious commitment to this beyond just words.
“With the country currently experiencing the greatest level of economic challenge seen in a decade, businesses large and small need confidence that the new administration has the leadership and vision required to ensure that they will not be abandoned in this most desperate of hours.
“A perfect start point for this would be to ensure that all companies are provided with the assistance required to get through the coming months without insurmountable burdens in terms of overheads and tax.
“Liz Truss can make these assurances swiftly and compellingly to provide these assurances.
“She can also put Yorkshire and the North at the heart of the economy’s future by being the Prime Minister that finally delivers on the pledges made by her predecessors by beginning work on Northern Powerhouse Rail and committing to rolling out HS2 in full.
“These moves can truly deliver on Levelling Up and take a crucial step towards making Britain a country where the same opportunities are available to everyone.”
Reacting to the announcement of the new Prime Minister, Sarah Howard, Chair of the BCC, said: “We would like to congratulate Liz Truss on running a successful campaign to become the UK’s new Prime Minister.
“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.
“The BCC set out a five-point action plan to support businesses at the end of August and sent it to the Treasury and the new PM’s team. It is now imperative that we see movement on our proposals.
“The plan is not just about ensuring support for businesses. It is also about protecting jobs, securing livelihoods, and creating a vibrant and prosperous society.”
The BCC five-point plan to support businesses includes the following measures:
1. Ofgem to be given more power to strengthen regulation of the energy market for businesses
2. Temporary cut in VAT to 5% to reduce energy costs for businesses
3. Covid-style support by introducing Government Emergency Energy Grant for SMEs
4. Temporarily reverse NICs and put money back into the pockets of businesses and workers
5. Government to immediately review and reform the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) to help bring down wage pressures and fill staffing vacancies
Picture of Liz Truss from UK Parliament under following licence conditions: full license, image has been resized.