Commenting ahead of the Spring Statement on Wednesday (23 March), East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “As global and domestic headwinds mount amid spiralling inflation and the war in Ukraine, the Spring Statement represents a perfect opportunity for the Chancellor to protect the UK from a renewed economic crisis.
“Companies are coming under significant cost pressures from just about every area of running a business, including energy, raw materials and people. In our latest Quarterly Economic Survey for Q1 2022, 80% of East Midlands companies expect prices to go up over the next three months.
“This is squeezing margins, bringing cashflow into negative territory for the first time in more than a year and impacting investment intentions, which are vital to making the productivity gains that will ultimately drive growth and create jobs locally.
“While the lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions last month at last gave firms some certainty, the cost of doing business crisis – exacerbated by interest rates rising again last week – threatens to thwart the economic recovery.
“With all this in mind, it’s imperative the Chancellor fortifies our economy for what will likely be some gruelling weeks and months ahead by resisting any urges to add further damaging costs to businesses.
“Implementing the British Chambers of Commerce’s five-point plan – which includes delaying the planned national insurance rise and introducing a temporary energy price cap for small businesses – would go some way to shielding firms from the worst of this crisis, giving them headroom to keep a lid on prices, protect jobs and make investment that is so vital to sustaining our economic prospects.”