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A pivotal election for a pivotal county: Suffolk Chamber challenges candidates to back business

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce launches its 2024 General Election manifesto – and urges all local Parliamentary candidates to indicate how far they would back its 15-point programme - aimed at securing renewed sustainable economic growth for everyone in Suffolk.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: Suffolk’s business community is incredibly resilient. As proven over the years since the last General Election, companies across the county have weathered the storms of COVID19 lockdowns, labour and skills shortages, inflation, excessive business taxation and low growth.

“Analysis of the most recent Suffolk Chamber Quarterly Economic Surveys show that many key business indicators such as sales, orders, investment, cash flow, turnover and profitability are generally lower than at any time since the start of the pandemic.

“That is why Suffolk’s business owners and management teams need clarity as to what to expect from their local Parliamentary representatives over the next four or five years.”

The principles that underpin Suffolk Chamber’s 2024 manifesto are:

  • Lower and smarter taxes, reliefs and legislation that incentivise and don’t penalise risk-taking and innovation
  • Systemic and programmed infrastructure upgrades to unlock private sector activity and investment
  • Empowering businesses to be at the centre of positive economic and social changes
  • Streamlining bureaucracy and supply-side blockages and reducing public debt
  • Fairer revenue funding for Suffolk
  • Deepening devolution of Central Government functions to maximise agile partnership working between Suffolk Chamber and the public sector

Based on evidence of real business experiences collected through investigations over the last four years and more by the Chamber’s respected policy groups, the 15-point General Election manifesto includes key asks such as:

  • Priority sign-off by The Treasury for Ely/Haughley rail junction improvements
  • Upgrade of all A14 pinch points in Suffolk (including the Orwell Bridge and J55 Copdock Interchange) in 2025-30
  • Replacement of business rates by a sales or turnover tax
  • R&D Tax Credits Scheme to be retained and bureaucracy reduced
  • Equal per capita national funding across all key departments for Suffolk (eg Adult Education, SEND, Police etc.)
  • Employers to remain at the centre of skills pipeline planning after the end of the Norfolk & Suffolk LSIP
  • Top-slicing of Integrated Care System budgets directly to business representative organisations to promote positive workplace health outcomes

Paul Simon, head of public affairs at Suffolk Chamber added: “Let’s be crystal clear: without a strong and consistent pro-business voice in Westminster in the next Parliament, Suffolk will never be able to boost household incomes, attract investment and maximise its contributions to national prosperity.

“This is a county with a strong concentration in key twenty first century sectors such as renewable energy, ports and logistics and the land-based economy that has been hobbled for far too long with out-of-date rail, road and communications infrastructure and a corporate tax and state funding system that penalises rather than encourages growth and investment.

“That is why we believe that this is a pivotal election for a pivotal county.”

Suffolk Chamber is surveying all Parliamentary candidates to find out the extent to which they are in agreement with this 15-point programme. The research results will be shared with its members initially and then the whole of the county’s business community to help them make informed electoral decisions.

It is also hoping to host a number of hustings bringing together candidates with local business leaders, including one in Ipswich in partnership with the University of Suffolk.

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Suffolk Chamber

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