Suffolk business group calls for 'emergency budget' to help firms

Shot of a group of businesspeople sitting together in a meeting

Government help is needed for Suffolk firms, it has been warned - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Business growth in Suffolk could be "choked" unless the government creates "a more supportive fiscal environment", it has been warned. 

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is calling for an emergency budget that delivers a "pro-business programme" to help companies, particularly start-ups, thrive in the county. 

The comments come after a report revealed that six out of seven areas of Suffolk saw positive net business growth in March 2022. 

Ipswich powered the county's performance with +96 net business growth, the business growth index from Growtion revealed. 

The net business growth is calculated by showing the monthly difference between businesses that are newly active and those just starting to find themselves in distress.

However, there are fears that recent post-Covid growth could be undone by the energy price hike and other factors such as labour and skills shortages

Rishi Sunak listens to business people at the meeting at Suffolk Food Hall

Rishi Sunak visited Suffolk last week - Credit: Zara Farrar - HM Treasury

New businesses are particularly vulnerable to "negative economic conditions", Suffolk Chamber said. 

“That Suffolk is a hotbed of dynamic and entrepreneurial businesses, whether start-ups or more established growing ventures, is unquestionable," Paul Simon, head of public affairs and strategic communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said. 

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"Survey after survey reinforces our belief that the diversity of the county’s business base, proximity to national and international markets and ability to attract outside investment and talent stands us in good stead over the longer-term.

Paul Simon, head of policy & communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

Paul Simon, head of public affairs and strategic communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce - Credit: Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

“That said, start-ups are frequently more vulnerable to negative economic conditions and with the cost of energy and other inputs rising steeply, growing labour and skills shortages and excessive corporate taxation, we are worried that some of this dynamism could be choked off unless the government creates a more supportive fiscal environment.

“That is why Suffolk Chamber is calling for an emergency budget that expressly delivers a pro-business programme by reversing the recent Employer NI hike, cutting VAT from 20% to 5% from SME’s energy bills and addressing the ongoing high absentee rates being experienced in some sectors by reintroducing free COVID tests for businesses and their staff.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to the media in 10 Downing Street, London, following a meeting.

Boris Johnson set out plans in the Queen's Speech on Tuesday - Credit: PA

In the Queen's Speech on Tuesday, prime minister Boris Johnson set out plans for changes to create a "high-wage, high-skill" economy.

But it brought a mixed reaction from unions and business groups in the UK. 

Speaking on Tuesday, Shevaun Haviland, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Today's Queen's Speech had some welcome measures for business, but unless the government takes immediate action on the economy, they will come too late to help many firms.

"An emergency budget is needed to provide firms with the breathing space they need to raise productivity and strengthen the economy."