Britain could be pushed into a “new economic storm”, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned, as he urged politicians to take action to support the UK over the coming year.
John Longworth said that “neither ministers nor businesses can afford to be complacent” in addressing priorities for British business. “The Government has to stop wasting opportunities to radically reshape the UK economy,” he said.
Mr Longworth added that the Government had “wasted some big chances to deliver real change” this year, by failing to decide on a new runway for the South East, and implementing a Spending Review “that placed political priorities ahead of economic necessities”.
BCC director general John Longworth Photo: Rii Schroer
Ahead of an expected increase in the Bank of England interest rates from their historically low levels of 0.5pc, Mr Longworth said that higher borrowing costs could leave businesses and consumers “exposed”.
Mr Longworth said: “The UK has been too reliant on consumer spending and asset transactions, driven by increased borrowing, for far too long, and this leaves the economy at risk.
“We may have solid levels of economic growth, but there are many clouds on the horizon that could ultimately push Britain into a new economic storm.”
The Institute of Directors's chief economist has cautioned that corporate profits could reach their peak next year, as low inflation and rising rates leave businesses exposed.
CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn
The BCC’s calls followed warnings from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) that the “cumulative” burden on businesses, including the apprenticeship levy and the new national live wage, risk costing jobs and hitting economic growth.
Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director general, said that the Government had put “a number of extra strains on businesses that are adding up”. She accused politicians of putting “the short-termism of modern politics” ahead of a “prosperous future” for the UK.