Help maintain business confidence, Hampshire Chamber urges PM

Stewart Dunn, Chief Executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce

Hampshire’s independent voice of business is urging Theresa May to do all she can to safeguard firms’ confidence during the Brexit negotiations.

The call, from Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, follows a nationwide survey of chamber members showing that sterling’s value remains a key worry six months after the EU vote.

Stewart Dunn, Chief Executive, said: “Most firms are simply getting on with the job while accepting there is a measure of political uncertainty, but fears over devaluation and the inflationary pressures that brings are present too and could intensify.”

In the survey, inflation was cited as the top concern among Hampshire Chamber members, with 47% of respondents saying it was more of an issue now than three months ago.

Mr Dunn said: “Lower sterling, while good news for some of our exporters, can easily push up inflation. If that happens, it will impact on both consumer spending and business investment.

“The government therefore needs to take pragmatic steps to safeguard the conditions that give business owners the confidence to invest for longer-term growth and prosperity.

“Ministers could, for example, introduce more incentives for investment through the tax and allowances system.”

Mr Dunn added that the government also needed to clarify the uncertainty around the post-Brexit status of existing EU workers in the UK.

He said: “All kinds of businesses depend on such workers from start-ups and small, family-owned companies right through to blue chips and multinationals.

“Employers will naturally want to plan for and manage the risk of any potential change to the legal status of EU workers on their payroll.”

Nationally, the British Chambers of Commerce has upgraded its growth forecasts for this year and next but still warned that the overall economic outlook ‘remained challenging’.