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News From The Chamber

Welcome to the latest news and updates from the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, your hub for business insights, events, and developments in the Cumbria region.

Spring Budget 2024: key points for businesses

The Chancellor’s Spring Budget today was disappointing, but not surprisingly so, with little substantive support for businesses here in Cumbria.
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As ever, the devil is in the detail and it will be interesting to review the published documents, which always contain more information than the speech. But Cumbria Chamber’s initial response is as follows.


Chambers have been pushing for action on the VAT registration threshold and the £5k increase in the threshold to £90k turnover is a positive move. However it does not go far enough and will do little to encourage more businesses to grow significantly as they manage activity to remain under the VAT threshold.

We’ve also been pushing for the reintroduction of an internationally competitive scheme for tax free shopping for visitors. This would have a significant positive impact on the visitor economy, and on producers feeding into it. So it was disappointing that there was no mention of this, or moves towards it.

Staffing and skills

Shortage of staff is one of the biggest issues facing businesses in the county, and mentioned by most in discussion. So it was hugely disappointing to see so little to address this in the Budget.

While the measures on Child Benefit and National Insurance aim to bring more people into the workforce more of the time, this does not do enough to address the scale of the issue.

In relation to the childcare measures previously announced, and commitment to the rate of funding announced today, while this is welcome, a key issue remains how the additional places can be staffed. Chambers, working together through BCC, have been pushing for a number of measures.

Chambers have been pushing for longer-term commitment to Local Skills Improvement Plan funding, which is having a positive impact here in Cumbria and nationally.

Alcohol duty

Alongside consumers, the county’s pubs and other hospitality venues will welcome freezing of this duty.

Fuel duty

Similarly the continued freeze on fuel duty will be welcomed by both businesses and consumers, who were facing a significant rise.

Support for businesses

While there were announcements around some specific sectors such as aerospace and tech, this misses the majority of businesses. A relatively small commitment through a grant scheme such as the Regional Growth Fund, which ran nationally some years ago, would have a real impact on the growth and productivity of a wide range of businesses – as demonstrated by the impact of smaller schemes we’ve been running locally.


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