Marches Local Enterprise Partnership responds to mini-budget
Marches Local Enterprise Partnership chair Mandy Thorn MBE said today’s mini-budget – and the earlier announcement over help on commercial energy costs – offered some support to business during a very challenging period.
But Mrs Thorn said the overall economic outlook remained tough and that the introduction of low tax Investment Zones would be ‘short-sighted’ if they were restricted to metropolitan areas.
“I welcome the fact that the Government has laid out some clear economic policies, which has not always been the case in recent months. This will give business some much-needed clarity and allow plans to be put in place.
“But if it is the Government’s intention to focus Investment Zones largely on conurbations, there is little doubt that rural areas such as the Marches will be harmed. This is short-sighted and something I would urge them to review immediately.
“In our area, hospitality in particular has been badly hit by the pandemic, soaring cost of energy, recruitment issues and the cost-of-living crisis. Lots of otherwise successful businesses have found themselves in real trouble as a result and the Government needs to do all it can to help support them in the long term.
“For an area with such a high percentage of small businesses, it is vital that they are given as much help as possible to weather the coming months. Many small businesses in the Marches are still reliant on oil for their heating and support for non-domestic users of oil would be helpful.
“The time is long overdue for a meaningful reform of the business rates system, including reducing the level of the multiplier, and ensuring that VAT relief for the hospitality sector and non-essential retailers is extended for as long as it is needed.
“Cuts in tax and Stamp Duty will undoubtedly put more money back in people’s pockets, but there must be strategic and sustained investment in local economies running alongside these measures.
“Organisations such as the LEP can play a key role in building partnerships to ensure investment meets local demand – for infrastructure, commercial and residential property, skills and business support – and we would urge the Government to listen to voices such as ours to determine local priorities and make use of the business support eco-system already established and in place through LEPs.”