‘Cut benefits and give the money to businesses’

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Business leaders are urging the government to cut people’s benefits and use the money saved to help companies grow.

Milton Keynes & North Bucks Chamber of Commerce was told at a meeting on Wednesday (November 28) that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should make some tough choices in his autumn statement next week.

“Spending should be shifted from other areas,” said Suren Thiru, a UK economic adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). “The welfare budget should be reduced to help business.”

Colin Fox, chief executive of the Milton Keynes and North Bucks Chamber of Commerce, told the Chamber’s Quarterly Forum at DeVere’s Harben House, in Newport Pagnell, that the Chamber is the only business organisation saying where the governent’s growth investment should come from. The group represents 720 member companies across the area.

The national body supports the government’s attempts to cut the deficit but believes more should be done to boost business for the “long term benefits” it has for the economy. The BCC supports measures to promote exports, build more homes and invest in big infrastructure projects.

Mr Thiru said the economuy still faced significant “headwinds” including problems in the Eurozone, budget issues in the USA, weakening global growth and rising inflation in the UK. The BCC expects inflation to hit 3 per cent next year before falling back again.

Milton Keynes business leaders told the meeting about their experiences. One exporter said he was worried about the potential effects of the USA failing to deal with its spending, the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’.

Another in the property sector said one possible deal could see the first tenant sign the first ‘no rent’ letting in some years. Mr Fox said: “Things aren’t good when deals are going through for zero rent.”

Mr Fox added overall the signs are that Milton Keynes as an economy continues to do okay. “Milton Keynes tends to buck the trend and has been indentified by Experian as one of the top 10 cities driving UK growth.”

That experience was echoed by a fire safety expert who said business was good. And a business mentor said he was “busy” but not necessarily making a profit.

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