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Budget provides only small relief for Midlands' businesses

Taxing on bricks and mortar is no longer tenable and there needs to be fundamental reform of business rates according to chamber chief Paul Faulkner

Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Philip Hammond delivered small relief for businesses according to the chamber

Relief on the roads but little relief for business rate-payers.

That was our take on the Chancellor's Budget and we're pushing ahead for further reform in a rates system that has become woefully outdated in a digital age.

Taxing on bricks and mortar is no longer tenable and, in the long term, we need to see fundamental reform which the Chambers of Commerce network has been urging for some time.

The Chancellor has brought forward nothing to address concerns about the ability of businesses to challenge inaccurate rates bills under the reformed system and he missed the opportunity to lift plant and machinery out of the business rates system.

This is a serious barrier to encouraging businesses to invest and increase their productivity.

The Chancellor also did nothing to assuage those who feel the North always gets a better deal.

Who can blame those who have been labelled whingers when he announced a £23 million fund for tackling pinch points in the whole of the Midlands, somewhat short of the £90 million made available in the North?

Our region is one of the fastest growing in Europe, attracting more inward investment than any area outside London.

Better transport links are proved to support increased productivity.

We are greatly looking forward to the launch tomorrow of the Midlands Engine strategy.

This should represent a positive step in our region's impressive trajectory and journey towards rebalancing the national economy.

It was also good to hear that the Chancellor shares our concerns on the skills gap and the need for parity between technical and academic education and qualifications.

This is an area of high concern for businesses in the region and we need to ensure that the aspirations, skills and qualifications of those leaving education match the needs of local employers.

Paul Faulkner is chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

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