AN URGENT plea for the Chancellor to help ease the cost of doing business has been made by industry leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire.
In a survey of 1,000 firms by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), 73 per cent said they would increase their prices due to rising costs – citing soaring energy bills, wage increases, rising raw material costs and domestic taxes as major factors.
BCC director general Shevaun Haviland has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak warning of the dangers facing firms – and that call is being backed by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
The BCC has outlined a five-point plan to help businesses to weather the current conditions and keep price rises under control – including a temporary energy price cap for small businesses, extending the Chancellor’s energy bills rebate scheme for households to smaller businesses, and delaying the planned National Insurance rise by a year.
Sean Rose, head of policy at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said rising costs were having a major impact on businesses across the region.
He said: “We are right behind the call from the BCC to the Chancellor to look at every option available to help reduce the cost of doing business.
“With Covid-19 restrictions lifted, this should be a time for businesses to be focused solely on growing again – but rising costs are making life difficult.”
BCC director general Shevaun Haviland said: “Without help from the Treasury, many businesses – especially smaller ones – will be faced with a nearly impossible situation that will leave them with little choice but to raise prices.
“Our research has shown that businesses were drowning in rising costs even before the energy crisis began to bite. This latest data reveals that companies are now also under extreme pressure from spiralling gas and electricity bills as well as increased wages.
“The majority are having to raise prices in response, though many are also being forced to scale back planned investment or cut other costs from their balance sheet.
“The Chancellor must implement our five-point plan to give firms a chance to stabilise without having to seriously increase their prices, cut jobs or the investment that is so vital to sustaining our economic recovery from Covid.
“Unabated, the surging cost pressures produced by the cost-of-doing-business crisis will continue to lead to increased prices and fuel the cost-of-living crisis currently being faced by people across the country.”
The British Chambers of Commerce’s five-point plan to tackle the ‘cost-of-doing-business crisis’
- Publish the findings of the government’s Supply Chain Advisory Group and Industry Taskforce and work with businesses to deliver practical solutions to ease the supply and labour shortages that continue to drive the upward pressure on prices.
- A moratorium, for the life of this parliament, on all policy measures that increase business costs, including no new business taxes or added regulatory burdens, but excluding only evidence-based changes to the National Living Wage.
- A temporary energy price cap for smaller businesses to protect them from some of the price increases they would otherwise face, offering the same protection as households.
- Additional financial support, through the expansion of the energy bills rebate scheme for households to also include small firms and energy intensive businesses and a new support fund, administered by Ofgem, to support the smallest firms with their soaring energy bills.
- Delay the impending National Insurance rise by one year to give firms much needed financial headroom to weather this unprecedented surge in costs and allow them to power the recovery.