Skip to main content Skip to footer

The annual British Chamber of Commerce Conference was held on May 17th, 2023, at the QEII Centre. The event was a resounding success, showcasing a heavy representation of British business leaders, global chambers, media and government representatives, for an action-packed day of thought-provoking conversation, insights and knowledge exchange. Suffolk business leaders were well represented, with Smart Garden Offices CEO, Matt Moss, interviewed by Channel 4 News to share his thoughts on the current concerns facing businesses.

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, urged the Government to reconnect with business as firms see no progress on the barriers to growth, read the full speech here

As a global conference, the International British Chambers were well represented and offered a great opportunity to meet and build connections with international trade connections for Suffolk business. 


Headline speakers at the British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference 

Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey’s key message was on bringing inflation down. While he was unwavering in his commitment to the UK’s 2% inflation target, he warned that higher food prices and a tight labour market could cause the cost-of-living crunch to persist. His outlook for immediate inflation-reduction was less favourable and he was unrepentant about the impact on businesses of 12 interest rate increases in last 16 months. We have major concerns, both about the responsiveness of the Bank of England to early inflationary pressures in late 2020 and now its lack of focus as to how this is impacting businesses, while monetary and fiscal policies contribute to a negative impact on business margins and profitability. The outline from Bailey raised question as to whether the Bank of England should be better attuned to wider policy outcomes and if the current level of Bank of England independence from Government was really such a strength?

Read his full speech here; Andrew Bailey speech 

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt was optimistic and confident in the success and growth of British business but his speech was more in line with previous earlier policy announcements, including full expensing of investments. Hunt focused heavily on working from the office being the “default” for employees, and he was worried about "the loss of creativity" when working from home. The possibility of expanding access to some overseas workers to address labour shortages was a key point from Hunt, promising business leaders he would work with them to overcome immigration barriers that prevent foreign skilled workers from filling jobs in the UK and he was prepared to adapt policy to tackle problems in the “short-term”; Hunt emphasised the government’s focus was to support UK workers unable to join the labour force. We are sceptical as to whether this will amount to anything as Government at the moment seems to be largely run by the Home Office which is constantly firefighting in order to achieve the right kind of ‘tough-on-immigration’ headlines it thinks its core constituencies want to see. Watch the recording of Jeremy Hunt’s Q&A at Annual British Chamber Conference here.

Growth was the key message from Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer across his speech, not just across economic growth but housing, wages, business and more with a 5-stage plan. Key was the need to give businesses medium-term certainty to allow investment plans to be made to help with that growth. There was an interesting emphasis on the need to reform aspects of supply side of economy, with planning reform a key focus for the speech. Starmer also clearly re-stated the pledge to “scrap and replace business rates”. It is vital that we hold any Labour Government to review and end business rates by end of 1st Parliament. Read the full speech from Sir Keir Starmer here.


Media coverage

The conference was well attended and covered by media, including;


Evening Standard

Evening Standard

Evening Standard


Sky News


The Times

The event provided an opportunity for like-minded business leaders to discuss critical issues facing the future of British business, including green innovation, skills, economic growth and trade.

Overall, the British Chamber of Commerce Conference was a major success, providing a platform for critical issues to be raised and discussed by key industry players, with a focus on positive growth and innovation.

About the author

Suffolk Chamber

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.
Find out more here