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Bank of England hears business challenges at Chamber of Commerce forum

INFLATION AND INTEREST RATES are creating a highly challenging environment in which businesses are operating, Bank of England officials have been told.

They were at a discussion forum hosted by Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce to hear for themselves the concerns of local businesses.

The virtual roundtable discussion took place against the backdrop of a small rise in unemployment in the second quarter of 2023 and pay rates up by an average 8.1% compared to the same period last year.

Sean Rose pictured, the Chamber’s head of policy and representation, said: “Our conversations with companies across the region consistently highlight the multifaceted challenges they face in the current business environment. Whether a small start-up or a large enterprise employing hundreds, operating successfully has become increasingly challenging. Many of our members are grappling with labour market pressures, struggling to attract individuals with the right skill sets, resulting in persistently high wage inflation.”

The 0.1% rise in unemployment to 4.3% in Q2 mirrors the economy’s response to the series of interest rate rises, he added.

He and the Chamber’s immediate past president Kevin Rogers thanked the Bank of England for joining the forum.

Mr Rogers pictured right, chair of Northamptonshire law firm Wilson Browne Solicitors, said: “In the face of these economic challenges, businesses require platforms such as the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce to voice their concerns and seek much-needed support. The Bank of England’s dedication to actively engaging with local firms is commendable and fosters a collaborative environment.

“This collaborative approach should also be embraced by fiscal policy decision-makers.”

Bank of England Rosie Smith said sessions with business leaders give valuable insight that inform the bank’s decision-making. “In times of economic turbulence, open dialogues such as these become even more critical,” she added. “These sessions provide us with a unique opportunity to directly connect with regional business leaders. By gaining a first-hand understanding of how inflation and interest rates impact local firms, we can make more informed decisions that ultimately benefit our community. “

  • The forum was part of a series of Bank of England briefings, hosted by the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber and its sister Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce are hosting a Policy Hour: Q&A session with South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom on October 6. Book a free place at www.chambermk.co.uk/chamber-events

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