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Gloucestershire Business News

New PM 'must restore business confidence'

Business leaders have called on new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to restore confidence after months of uncertainty.

Shevaun Haviland, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), of which Business West is a key member, said: "The political and economic uncertainty of the past few months has been hugely damaging to British business confidence and must now come to an end.

"The new Prime Minister must be a steady hand on the tiller to see the economy through the challenging conditions ahead.

"This means setting out fully costed plans to deal with the big issues facing businesses; soaring energy bills, labour shortages, spiralling inflation, and climbing interest rates.

"We cannot afford to see any more flip-flopping on policies - the UK's businesses need a sustainable, long-term economic plan they can believe in."

The BCC is writing to Mr Sunak to set out the action needed to tackle the main challenges facing business.

Ms Haviland added: "It is vital we see progress made in these areas to keep doors open and promote investment.

"Firstly, the Government must provide more certainty on the energy support package for businesses and quickly communicate how the system will work from April. Firms need to know what support to expect in the medium and long term.

"Secondly, they must fix the extremely tight labour market. Without the skilled people to do the jobs businesses need, the economy will stagnate.

"Thirdly, to grow the economy, the government must set out a strategy to boost our international trade and exports.

"People run businesses and businesses rely on people. The new administration must grasp that the cost of living and cost of doing business crises are two sides of the same coin.

"We need a clear long-term vision of how the new Prime Minister will deal with the challenges ahead and create the business conditions that allow firms, and the communities that rely on them, to thrive."

Sam Holliday, Federation of Small Businesses development manager for Gloucestershire, said: "The past few weeks have been very difficult for business because all the political drama around Westminster has only made a very challenging working environment worse.

"All we can now hope is that the new Prime Minister will put business and the country ahead of party concerns and get back to dealing with what we all accept is one of the most testing periods the small business community has ever faced.

"The advantage that Rishi Sunak may have is that his stock is still quite high with many businesses for what he did during the furlough and I hope he builds on that and maintains the energy support package for small businesses and the reversal of the hike in National Insurance which survived all the recent U-turns. These are important steps to giving businesses some form of financial clarity for the months ahead.

"Beyond politics and political parties, however, I do think it is good to see Britain's diversity reflected in having our first leader with Asian heritage. It doesn't quite feel like the UK's 'Barack Obama moment' where optimism abounded but it is still a positive step forward.

"I also think this will be viewed well across the world which is important at the moment as our international standing has taken a battering in recent months."

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