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Business recovery plan launched by BCC

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has published its strategy for helping businesses recover from the recession.

The plan has been drawn up because of worries that the government’s attempts to aid business recovery have so far lacked focus and a clear direction, the BCC said.

The strategy was presented to representatives of the Bank of England, the Treasury and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and will also be submitted to the Chancellor ahead of his 2009 budget.

A number of proposals are contained in the plan.

To help boost cash flow, the BCC wants a freeze in the national minimum wage in 2009, the reintroduction of empty property rate relief, a reduction in the rate of small companies’ corporation tax, and a reversal in the planned increase for National Insurance Contributions in 2011.

To generate extra business, the government should increase “shovel ready” infrastructure projects totalling £20 billion over the next 12 months.

Enterprise Zones, where businesses in specific areas can benefit from a simplified planning regime and exemption from a number of taxes, need to be set up.

Fears that key employee skills will be lost to businesses through lay-offs should be met with the introduction of the Temporary Short Time Working Compensation Scheme, which encourages short-time working rather than redundancy.

And exporters should be given extra support through reforms to the UKTI programmes and through the use of Enterprise Zones that would help firms to target relevant overseas markets.

David Frost, the BCC’s director general, said: “The government’s attempts to aid business recovery during this recession have so far lacked a clear and overarching strategy. While many measures introduced have been welcomed, a flood of announcements have often confused and lacked direction.’

Mr Frost added: “It will be business that leads the UK out of recession. For this reason it is vital that government does all it can to help companies by allowing them the freedom to create jobs and wealth. This means cutting taxes, calling time on harmful regulation and a more joined up approach from Whitehall.”