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LCCI reaction to Jeremy Hunt and Sir Keir Starmer speeches at the BCC Global Annual Conference

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said:

“Today at the BCC Global Annual Conference, British businesses heard from the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer, on their respective plans for a business led economic renewal.

“Businesses are facing challenges on multiple fronts, with the dark clouds of inflation hanging over their every move. Continued high inflation means that businesses have less available capital to spend on long-term planning and investing for growth, and this brings repercussions which will play out into the longer term.

“What businesses need, rather than an explanation of how inflation works, is for The Chancellor to set out a credible economic plan to combat these repercussions. We need a renewed focus on long-term economic planning and the introduction of truly pro-business measures to allow British businesses to get back on track after a difficult three years. This includes relaxing visa rules to help businesses fill staff shortages, a sustainable solution to mitigate high energy bills, a rethink of the current business rates system and take steps like the reintroduction of VAT-free shopping. Only then will London and the UK’s business community feel confident enough to invest in a more certain future.

“Sir Keir Starmer rightly identified planning reform as paramount to creating the best possible conditions for businesses in London and across the UK. Commercial rents are one of the largest pressures on London’s small businesses, who do not have the reserves to secure long-term leases and have suffered rapid increases in rent over recent years, and increasing the supply and affordability of commercial spaced will allow businesses to repurpose capital previously tied down for rent, to spend on growing and investing for the future.

“Sir Keir is also right to say that the businesses are crying out for a government that backs and believes in them and that businesses need a government to provide a more coherent industrial strategy in a changing world.

“It is clear that both parties are making promises and setting out their stalls in the lead up to the next general election, but what businesses need to see more than anything else are tangible policy solutions which cultivate an ecosystem in which British businesses can thrive.”