This Budget has given much talk of brighter futures but the last 18 months have not left business with much room to manoeuvre. The reserves are dry. Recovery doesn’t originate in a vacuum. Liverpool’s economy has proved itself to be extraordinarily resilient in the last eighteen months, from events to hospitality but we cannot pretend this doesn’t mean our economy isn’t bruised. What business needs is a strategy for the long term, not just the next election cycle.

The core challenges business is facing are on rising prices, finding skilled staff and operating in a confident economy. Has this Budget delivered on that?

There’s no mention of VAT but there is much in there for business. Changes to business rates and relief for what, in effect, is much of the cultural and retail industry in Liverpool is welcome but what is the impact on local government going to be? And this is short term. What happens in 2025 or beyond. This might give immediate relief but what two or three years from now? We need a real, dedicated and thorough business rates review.

The increase in the National Living Wage is critical for those working in retail and hospitality. But how far is it going to go to fill crucial gaps in sectors, like hospitality, like the cultural sector, where the lack of skilled workers is hindering recover. Business needs a greater indication of the support they will be able to get to hire workers from overseas. How are roles going to be promoted and those gaps filled? We know how important food and drink is to Liverpool’s economy and the attraction are greatly diverse range of hospitality does to attract visitors, but Chefs are not on the recruitment list for visas. Skills training is crucial for a high earning economy but where is the through line for this? Business needs to have a short term solution while we wait for the next generation to come out of education and training.

News on transport and connectivity is vital for Liverpool to stay competitive and attract investment. We need to consider how goods are going to be transported from Liverpool’s Freeport and reaching shops and businesses across the North and the rest of the UK.

Culture is vital to Liverpool’s economy so we welcome the support to Tate Liverpool, libraries and museums, along with the new Beatles attraction. We also welcome the tax relief to our vital cultural economy, of music and performance touring festivals that bring so much to our city’s culture and economy. But we need to consider the grassroots cultural offer and venues. Continued support and funding is so important so that we can build and inspire the next generation of world class music artists.

So what are we left with? We need a long term economic plan that does more than tinker at edges. We need investment in the future of businesses ravaged by the past two years, in the mental health of our colleagues and communities, and in the future of our young people so they can see a wealth of opportunity on their doorstep.

Bill Addy
Chief Executive
Liverpool BID Company

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