Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry is urging the Chancellor to stimulate demand, support business and boost confidence when he stands up to deliver his Budget on April 22. President Bridget Blow says he must tackle the cashflow difficulties which are crippling small businesses in the economic downturn

Never has it been so important to support our exporters, who are key to surviving the recession.

Many of our firms are unable to export because of the drying up of credit and a lack of insurance coverage.

We are calling upon the Government to step in as an insurer of last resort for trade credit insurance on a temporary basis following the example set by the French government in supporting the state-backed reinsurer, Caisse Centrale de Reassurance S.A., to offer reinsurance to credit issuers.

What we want to see from Alastair Darling is an analysis of every single tax that business pays to establish whether there is room for the introduction of a temporary tax holiday.

However, we are very nervous that the Chancellor will look to use businesses to bail out deteriorating public finances - especially given the unfavourable precedent set by recent rises in fuel duty and business rates.

This simply must not happen.

Businesses in the West Midlands are the region’s key wealth generator. It will be down to members of the Chamber to see us through this recession.

Increasing their tax burden will slow recovery as well as force many to reduce their investment, training and even staff, to make ends meet.

One consideration close to the heart of many businesses in the region is the re-introduction of the Empty Property Rate Relief and we would like to see that happen as soon as possible.

Too many businesses have had to demolish buildings because the abolition of the rate relief has unduly adversely affected their bottom-line.

And the Chancellor must help all businesses, especially those in transport, by scrapping the 1.84 pence fuel duty increase planned for this month. It is sending out the wrong message in these recessionary times. An absolute must for Mr Darling is to work hard to ensure the speedy implementation of flagship government policies aimed at increasing bank lending to businesses.

We would also like to see him introduce a wage subsidy system for firms forced to implement temporary, short-time working across key West Midlands’ sectors especially the automotive sector. And we would like a three-year moratorium on non-essential government activity that imposes a cost on business.

For example, freeze the implementation of a host of legislative burdens that would severely damage the competitiveness of UK plc at this time, and ensure that where European legislation is introduced we avoid unnecessary gold plating.

As such, the implementation of the Temporary and Agency Workers directive should be held off until the final possible moment - October 2011.

Finally we would like to see support for firms in the form of grants or tax credits for the continuation of apprenticeships.