The latest from the Black Country 

Made in the Black Country, Sold Around the World

Commenting on the Budget submission by the British Chambers of Commerce, Black Country Chamber President, Ninder Johal said: “We agree that the focal point of the 2015 budget needs to be on measures to support long-term business investment and a long term Annual Investment Allowance is certainly an opportunity worth exploring.

“However, businesses in the Black Country make things that are sold around the world. They are often at the leading edge of technology and occupy high quality niches. Our businesses want to be able to ship these products without facing gridlock. They want support in the form of intensive assistance rather than arm length sign posting. They want to talk to people who they trust rather than a call centre or a help line which is ill equipped to meet their needs.

“I started my Presidency last year just after the 2014 budget and at that time we asked for radical reform if the Black Country is to enjoy similar growth to that experienced in the South East. A year later we are asking for more money passed to local authorities to improve local road infrastructure so freight can reach the motorways more quickly and greater investment in  interconnected public transport across the sub-region to ease commuting; A local fund for manufacturers to develop skills solutions for manufacturing SME; Financial incentives for schools and employers to work together to improve the ‘soft skills’ of young people and to overcome the barriers to providing effective work experience; More investment in reducing red tape for businesses and more incentives for manufacturing SME to develop their capability to enter and become successful in export markets.

“We are aware of limited progress on some of last year’s requests but on the whole, the Black Country’s needs have been overlooked and the potential of our precision, leading-edge businesses is being unrealised. The Black Country Chamber of Commerce will continue to push for radical change.”

In addition to our agenda above, our senior members have made requests from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Kevin Rogers, Chief Executive of Paycare and member of The Platinum Group and Patron of the Black Country Chamber said: “The NHS faces unprecedented challenges now and into the future. Organisations in the mutual and not for profit sectors are well placed to help with these challenges. The Chancellor could help the industry to achieve its aims by exempting employer paid health cash plans from benefit-in-kind and reducing the ever increasing regulatory burden which adds cost and reduces the amount organisations are able to give to health related causes.

“At Paycare we look to engage with schools within Wolverhampton to offer pupils opportunities to develop their skills. Any help the chancellor could give in terms of incentives and assistance would assist us to do even more work in this area.”

Johnathan Dudley, Chair of The Alliance for the Black Country and Managing Partner and Head of Manufacturing Business at Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP pointed out the need to create certainty in pension tax relief ahead of the changes announced for the next financial year.

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