East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce column | We need a strong and stable partner

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Recent stagnation in the US inflation rate has seen talk of a delay in much hoped-for interest rates falls – just one of the multitudes of external factors driving businesses to frustration.

Reporting back to government weekly as I do, on the health of the nation’s businesses – well East Lancashire’s anyway, it’s a tale of two halves.

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Miranda Barker OBE, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.Miranda Barker OBE, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.
Miranda Barker OBE, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

Businesses order books are full – our manufacturers are working at max pace, and April’s report from the MTA on the underestimated level of benefit of the UK’s manufacturing sector to the economy of the country, makes it essential reading for anyone south of the Watford gap – we here of course, know it already.

It’s those extraneous factors, those things no business can control that are eating away at their profit margin and making life harder.

The energy price hikes, the transport container costs – still inflated because of the red sea shipping piracy risk, it’s the cost-of-living crisis, minimum wage rise and staff shortages keeping the salary costs, current and future sky high – that’s if you can find the new staff you need. It’s the interest rates stubbornly sticking, and keeping the costs of asset purchasing so painful – and pushing down those margins. It’s the policy changes, pulling the rug out from under our industries, and weakening markets for innovation.

We need our future government, of whatever colour, to be a strong and stable partner (where have we heard that before?) for business, making investment decisions businesses can view with certainty. Only then can private sector investment be unlocked.

Over the next few months we must demand more – more ambition, more commitment, and more partnership from those in governments to come.

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