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The Budget had some good things for businesses but was a real missed opportunity





Opinion | By Ian Sandison, chief executive, Cambridge BID

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak had the chance last week to really underpin the current business recovery and whilst some of his plans are to be welcomed the view from businesses is that it was a missed opportunity.

Ian Sandison, chief executive of Cambridge BID
Ian Sandison, chief executive of Cambridge BID

As I walked around our beautiful city during a busy half term last week, it was shocking as to how many businesses are struggling to recruit into the retail hospitality and leisure (RHL) sectors.

This is resulting in successful businesses closing on some days or some restaurants not being open for both lunch and dinner and hence simply losing business. While wages and conditions in this sector are part of the issue and the rise in the minimum wage is to be welcomed, what underpins this issue, particularly in Cambridge (in addition to Brexit) is the lack of emphasis on getting young people to see that working in RHL can be a great career choice.

While the Budget pledged more funds for apprenticeships schemes the uptake of the current Kickstart scheme has been slow and these schemes need to be permanent not seen as an interim solution. Business rates also require reform, they are regressive, they penalise smaller businesses and they tax businesses investing in their premises, albeit a one year grace period on this was announced.

The 50 per cent discount from next April is to be welcomed, but this will likely not fully offset rising wages, the rising cost of goods and tariffs, rising energy prices and the return to the full 20 per cent vat that the hospitality sector faces from April 1.

Our region is blessed to have such amazing science and technology businesses and these are vital to supporting the wider economy, but not everyone wants to go into these STEM subjects and we urgently need parents to encourage their children to see that not going to university and going into the world of work especially in RHL can be a rewarding career that offers great development and learning opportunities.

Cambridge BID logo (29031044)
Cambridge BID logo (29031044)

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