A leading Kent business organisation is joining a growing chorus calling for an immediate emergency budget to deal with the rising cost of living crisis gripping firms and families.
The Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce - which represents firms across the county - has joined the British Chambers of Commerce and its network in developing a three-point plan to keep the lid of rising prices, boost productivity and ease cost pressures.
They include reversing the recently introduced increase to National Insurance until at least 2023/24 and slashing VAT on firms' energy bills from 20% to 5% for at least one year.
It also wants labour shortages addressed by reinstating free Covid tests for companies to ease the strain on productivity caused by persistent high absences.
Jo James, chief executive of the Kent Chamber, said: "The costs crises facing firms and people in the street are two sides of the same coin. If we can ease the pressure on businesses then they can keep a lid on the price rises being driven by surging energy bills, staff shortages and higher taxes.
"Firms will then have the breathing space they need to raise productivity and strengthen the economy. But a change of course is needed now, if the government does not act immediately then rising costs will put our economic recovery in a stranglehold that will have repercussions for years to come.
"Together the three steps would take the pressure off businesses that are battling to keep the economy afloat and offer a route to higher productivity and tax receipts in the future.
"These are simple, straightforward measures that can be quickly reversed when the economy is in better shape.
"The Treasury and HMRC have proven their ability during the pandemic to implement similar changes quickly and efficiently. Making these changes would have an immediate benefit for both businesses and the public.
"The government has a variety of financial levers it can pull, and this is the time to use them. Acting today will then give businesses a chance to create the future profits needed to fill tax coffers.”