A group that represents businesses across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire has reacted to news that inflation could hit 14 per cent, with the economy already being in recession.

Last week, the British Chambers of Commerce released its quarterly economic forecast, which predicts inflation – the amount we pay for goods – could hit 14 per cent, more than the 10 per cent price increases already expected.

Also, the Chambers of Commerce has stated that the economy is already in recession, which means a decline in economic activity.

Its recent report shows a decline in activity for quarters 2 and 3 (April-June and July-September) and a predicted decline in quarter 4 (October-December) as well.

Now the local chamber of commerce for businesses in our area has reacted to the news.

As the accredited Chamber of Commerce for the Thames Valley, Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce has been working with businesses throughout the challenges of brexit, the pandemic and is now preparing its members for a lengthy period of tough trading conditions.

The Thames Valley Chamber covers Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell, West Berkshire and Slough, and also Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Swindon.

Member organisations include 3M, the Great Western Railway, Heathrow Airport, Microsoft, Sanofi, Syngenta, Thames Water and the University of Reading.

Paul Britton, CEO, Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce said “This news reflects the unsustainable rising cost of doing business and while we are consistently one of the more resilient business communities, there are businesses deeply concerned about dramatic increases in energy costs on the horizon, and recruitment issues.

“Recently, the British Chambers of Commerce wrote to the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and both leadership candidates for the Conservative party on behalf of the UK Chamber network, proposing a comprehensive five-point plan to provide vital support to UK businesses.

“Support is needed for spiralling costs through grant funding and a reduction in VAT on energy bills, along with measures to boost growth.”

The five point plan proposed by the chamber of commerce involves:

  1. Ofgem to be given more power to strengthen regulation of the energy market for businesses
  2. Temporary cut in VAT to five per cent to reduce energy costs for businesses
  3. Covid-style support by introducing a Government Emergency Energy Grant for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
  4. Temporarily reverse National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and put money back into the pockets of businesses and workers
  5. Government to immediately review and reform the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) to help bring down wage pressures and fill staffing vacancies.

Reforming the SOL would involve relaxing criteria for immigrants to come to the UK on work visas. 

It is understood the Chamber of Commerce will raise it's concerns to the new Prime Minister Liz Truss, the MP for South West Norfolk, who was announced as the new leader of the Conservative Party at 12.30pm today (Monday, September 5).

The successful candidate in the Conservative leadership contest will become the Prime Minister.

The contest is between Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk and Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond.

The winner is due to be announced at 12.30pm today (Monday, September 5).