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17 Oct 2022

Government’s indecisiveness is creating a ‘zero-confidence environment’ for businesses, says East Midlands Chamber

Commenting on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s revised mini-budget unveiled today (17 October 2022), East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Staging two vastly different mini-budgets, underpinned by opposing ideologies, within a matter of weeks is an unprecedented situation for our country and this relentless cycle of uncertainty is crippling our economy.

“It creates a zero-confidence environment that affects businesses’ ability to plan definitively, which in turn has a negative impact on investment into growth and jobs – something our region will be concerned about given the unemployment rate has increased over the past two months, albeit from a record-low figure.

“Upholding the commitment to cutting national insurance will be welcomed by businesses, but reversing almost every other measure on taxes paid by firms will be hugely worrying when we are dealing with a cost-of-doing-business crisis. A significant scale-back of the Energy Price Guarantee is a particular concern as this will affect both businesses and their employees.

“We understand something needed to happen to ease the market volatility and fill the void in decision-making that has stretched back to the summer, but it’s vital the latest mini-budget is now backed up by supply-side reform to grow the economy.

“This means we need to hear more about some of the less heralded aspects of the initial mini-budget, including streamlining planning processes, developing infrastructure and incentivising meaningful business investment.

“We must also see progress made in tackling key constraints to business growth, in particular a severely tight labour market. This means supporting greater business investment in workforce training, adopting flexible working practices, expanding the use of apprenticeships, and a comprehensive reform of the Shortage Occupation List to allow sectors facing urgent demand for skills to get what they need.

“These measures, in conjunction with the Chancellor’s intervention today, could finally provide the confidence and certainty that businesses desperately need.”