Chamber demands strategy plan from ‘U-turn’ Chancellor

THE organisation that promotes business interests across the region has called for a new-long-term economic strategy from the embattled Conservative government.

Responding to today’s emergency statement by Jeremy Hunt, Ross McNally, Hampshire Chamber’s Chief Executive and Executive Chairman, said: “Whatever happens politically in the coming days and weeks, the new Chancellor is right that ensuring stability has to be the number one priority for the economy right now.

“Exasperated businesses will naturally assess their own circumstances as regards his reversal of the planned cuts to income and corporation taxes but if the government can successfully address the current market volatility this will create more headroom and certainty to plan and invest.

“That said, we still need a long-term strategic plan with fiscal measures and regulatory improvements in place to encourage investment and solve energy insecurity.

“We await the wider fiscal statement due on Hallowe’en with interest.”

And the Director of Policy & Communications at pensioner advice forum Independent Age, John Palmer, said: “Older people living on low and modest incomes were hoping to be reassured today, but frustratingly the Chancellor’s statement posed more questions than answers.

“Instead of ensuring stability, today only provided uncertainty. The review of the Energy Price Guarantee is extremely concerning. It’s no longer clear who will receive support beyond April 2023. Now millions of older people are wondering if they will be abandoned by the government and left with unaffordable energy bills and freezing homes next year.

“We know that many people in later life are already making dangerous cutbacks on heating and food. Our own polling revealed that 65% of older people plan to use less heating this winter.

“The government must ensure that its new targeted approach from next year helps older people in financial hardship, including the 850,000 older people who are currently entitled to Pension Credit but do not receive it.

“A fundamental, non-negotiable way to help older people’s incomes keep up with the price of essentials is for the government to uprate benefits and the State Pension with inflation. Today was another missed opportunity to offer this reassurance. Instead, millions of people over 65 will continue to live in fear that they will be made even poorer, when their budgets have been broken by the cost-of-living crisis.”


PICTURED: Hampshire Chamber Chairman Ross McNally