We Need More Than Empty Platitudes, Mr Hammond

Fri, March 10th, 2017

How much is the government behind our dynamic entrepreneurs?

Chancellor Philip Hammond appeared quite pleased with himself when he delivered his “boring” Budget on Tuesday, but the ensuing controversy over an increase in National Insurance contributions for self-employed people soon wiped the smile off his face.

And the punitive tax increase for entrepreneurs wasn’t the only reason the business world was less than pleased with his speech.

What many found extraordinary was the absence of the ‘B’ word - there was not a single reference in the speech to Brexit.

In a matter of weeks, skirmishes with the Lords permitting, Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 and kick-start the two-year process of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

Many business people wanted to stay in and voted Remain but most have accepted the result of the Referendum and are keen to see what the new international trading picture will look like.

With the expert help of Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce, there is a large contingent of Liverpool city region businesses who trade overseas.

They are keen to grow their international reach and there are many other firms interested in exporting their goods and services for the first time, too.

In recent weeks the Chamber has been taking about the exciting possibilities of a new trade deal with the US.

As Chief Executive Jenny Stewart has pointed out, the opening of the Liverpool2 deep-water port terminal on the Mersey means we are now “facing the right way for the first time in decades”.

“Our latest quarterly economic survey showed firms in the city region have never been more optimistic for the future as they are right now,” added Jenny.

Chamber trade experts have also identified Mexico, Australia, Turkey and Kenya as markets ripe with growing trade opportunities, as well as more established markets such as South East Asia and the Middle East.

So the lack of solid information coming from Government is, to say the least, highly frustrating.

We understand the Brexit negotiations will be complex and the Government has to be careful not to show too much of its hand.

But, in his speech this week, Philip Hammond once again trotted out the now cliched saying about Britain being “open for business”.

Here in the Liverpool city region we are open for business and our dynamic entrepreneurs are chomping at the bit to trade with the rest of the world.

The Government needs to show it is fully behind them - and that needs more than just empty platitudes.

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