Reacting to the Chancellor’s speech setting out his vision for economic growth, Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said:
“The Chancellor is right to be optimistic for the future of British businesses which are desperate to grow and prosper.
“Our Chamber Network is jam-packed with innovative and forward-looking firms. They are developing new products and services that can sustain our economy for years to come.
“But beyond pledges to introduce Investment Zones and to use reform of Solvency II to unlock capital there was very little meat on the bones of his vision.
“Crucially he missed out two Es when he detailed his focus on ‘enterprise, education, employment and everywhere’. Without addressing the issues of energy and exports, our economic growth will continue to be stunted.
“While wholesale energy costs might now be starting to fall, the reality is that thousands of businesses were locked into new contracts last year at prices that will remain far higher for months to come. This will be unsustainable for many and must be addressed.
“It is also very disappointing that he did not mention exports at all. Government must help businesses to harness the opportunities provided by existing free trade agreements, and those coming on stream.
“Vision is important, but the mechanics of delivery matter too. The Chancellor should make full use of our 53-strong Chamber Network, which is plugged into local economies across the UK, and 79 international affiliated members to help deliver growth through exports.
“The four Es is a start, but we moved no further forward this morning. We urge the Chancellor to read the BCC’s business manifesto for realistic polices to help get back to growth.”