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BCC response to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

Businesses support fiscal responsibility, but decisions should be based on economics, not politics. Ultimately, it is businesses as wealth creators which generate prosperity, create jobs and support communities.

The Chancellor's ambition is to be applauded but details, as ever, matter. The focus should be on creating the best possible environment for businesses to grow and thrive so they can sustainably deliver the tax revenue needed to return our public finances to a sustainable path.

“The focus of the upcoming Budget must be on injecting momentum and confidence across all regions and nations of the UK, with measures aimed at underpinning a sustained economic revival and addressing longstanding issues. This should include addressing the increasingly onerous cost of doing business in the UK and to finally deliver fundamental reform of our broken business rates system.

On the Chancellor’s announcements on jobs support:

With businesses experiencing acute skills and labour shortages, it’s vital that everyone can access work and training opportunities.

On Apprenticeship Employer Incentives:

While the 4-month extension of employer cash incentives for hiring new apprentices is good news for many employers, we really need to see the grant extended to the end of 2022. This will allow more time for those SMEs still recovering from the pandemic to create new apprenticeship opportunities that will increase technical skills in the workplace, tackle skills shortages and boost productivity.

We welcome the increased investment in training for developing industries involving AI and innovative technologies. These skills will support employers in key sectors for our economy going forward.

On Kickstart:

Employers are creating thousands of kickstart jobs to help young people furthest from the labour market gain skills for work - and so it would make more sense to extend the scheme further, to the end of 2022, and broaden the eligibility criteria, to ensure more young people can benefit from the scheme.

Employers, crying out for skilled and experienced people in the workplace, will welcome initiatives to help older workers return to the labour market, re-train and reboot their careers.The government should also extend the kickstart scheme to include older workers, to provide new experience, skills and confidence to re-join the workforce.

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