Chancellor urged to deliver growth-boosting Budget to end the 'stagnation'
Business leaders in the Black Country have urged Sajid Javid to deliver a growth-boosting Budget that ends the "prolonged stagnation" of Britain's economy as it leaves the EU.
The Black Country Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) has laid out a series of demands to the Chancellor, who is expected to deliver major reforms in his first Budget on March 11.
The group, which represents more than 800 firms, wants to see Brexit "done right" so that the region's businesses have a "clear" future trading relationship with the EU.
Members have also demanded a swift conclusion to the next stage of the Brexit negotiations, warning that changes from existing trading arrangements risked firms "moving their production elsewhere".
The BCCC also called for taxes and business costs to be slashed, new financial support for work-based training and an overhaul of the apprenticeship levy.
One key demand centres around the region's transport networks, with the Chamber calling for the creation of a new fund to invest in transport, energy and electric vehicle infrastructure, space technology, and digital connectivity.
A "root and branch" review of the business rates system is also required, the Chamber says, claiming that in its current form it causes "an unnecessarily large burden to be placed upon businesses regardless of their ability to pay".
In a letter to the Chancellor, BCCC chief executive Corin Crane, said: "The end of political deadlock at Westminster must also bring action to renew business confidence and tackle the prolonged stagnation that’s affecting so much of the UK economy.
"The government must use its newfound majority to take big decisions to stimulate growth.
"However, they also must move quickly over the coming weeks to ensure that Brexit is done right. A clear future trading relationship with the EU is also crucial to many firms’ future investment and growth prospects.
"We believe that the focus for the Budget 2020 must be to deliver an ambitious programme of change that pulls out all the stops to support business growth in the Black Country through investment into skills, infrastructure and the business environment whilst seeking to reduce the costs of doing business here in the UK."
In the letter, the Chamber also renews its calls for HS2 to be delivered in full.
Mr Javid's Budget is widely expected to see tax cuts and a reform of public spending, including extra cash for social care and a follow through on Boris Johnson's promise to reduce the economic inequality between the South East and the Midlands.