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Chamber: The government must act now to inspire growth

MORE NEEDS to be done to help the UK economy to grow after new figures show that it continues to ‘flatline’.

The latest GDP figures from the Office of National Statistics report zero growth in February and are in line with forecasts that the UK economy will shrink by 0.3% this year.

Now executives at Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce have called on ministers to act to tackle the high energy prices, recruitment challenges and inflation – all issues that are holding business back.

Its parent body the British Chambers of Commerce also expects GDP to contract in 2023, a view echoed by the IMF forecast in its World Economic Outlook published last month. 

Sean Rose pictured left, head of policy at the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce, said: “The latest figures come as no surprise and reflect the national picture that economic growth is going to remain stagnant. There are some fundamental drags on growth that are impacting businesses across all sectors, such as high energy prices, inflation and a recruitment crisis, to name but a few.”

The BCC says the business environment must improve quickly to ensure confidence does not fall back to the levels of 2022. The Budget in March delivered several positive measures but did not go far enough to accelerate growth. In particular, ministers must address issues of energy prices and the labour market.

Mr Rose said: “It is vitally important that these issues are tackled to allow companies across Milton Keynes to flourish. On top of that, we would like to see much more emphasis, support and encouragement for overseas trade as this is a massive driver for domestic, economic growth.”

He urged local businesses looking for support for their growth plans to seek advice and help from the Chamber.

“And, as ever, we’d encourage firms who need support with their growth plans to get in touch with the Chamber and ask for help.”

The BCC has also called on the government to make global trade a priority. Its head of research David Bharier said: “UK exporters have faced major administrative costs since the introduction of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU and the focus must now be on ensuring the new customs and paperwork arrangements work smoothly for businesses both side of the Irish Sea.

“It is now clear we are stuck in a prolonged period of almost no growth. After a sharp drop in business confidence last year, our latest research shows that optimism among SMEs is now on the way up. But this is yet to translate into an improvement to business conditions in general.”

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