11:42am Tuesday 26th March 2013
ONE of the pleasures of being president of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) is the opportunity to take part in events organised by the British Chambers of Commerce and Industry (BCC); and their annual conference was no exception.
The event was held in Central Hall, Westminster, a historic venue with Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament just a stone’s throw away.
The 500 attendees representing businesses and Chambers of Commerce across the UK heard presentations from William Hague, Lord Heseltine and Ed Miliband plus business and other speakers including Wayne Hemingway (Red or Dead) and the BCC’s director general, John Longworth.
The BCC looked for government spending to be moved more in favour of business and for increased infrastructure spending, both of which were to some extent addressed in the Budget last week.
Lack of financial access for many businesses remains a big challenge and a deterrent to business growth.
More focus on exporting remains paramount for UK plc.
Far more effort is needed on Skills Development and Appren-ticeships with a particular focus on the needs of employers – there are jobs out there, but employers often struggle to match the skills required to do the job effectively.
Lord Heseltine reiterated his enthusiasm for greater visibility and influence for Chambers of Commerce as a key provider of business support.
In last week’s budget, my colleagues at Morris Lane noted a number of positive measures that businesses should cheer.
For smaller companies in particular, the new (and automatic) £2,000 employer NICs reduction, the cancellation of the fuel duty rise, and the BCC-proposed Growth Vouchers scheme will stand out.
For all companies, swifter reductions in corporation tax (which will fall to 20 per cent in 2015) feature strongly, as do improved incentives for investment and research and development.
Unfortunately, there was no further action on business rates – a key priority for the Chamber network and SMEs.
The Treasury tells us, however, that business rates will be reviewed fully ahead of this year’s Autumn Statement, so some possibility of positive change remains on the horizon. Now that would really be great news for business.
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