Opinion by Jim Griffin, Rugby branch chairman, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce
There were no surprises in Chancellor George Osborne’s final budget before the General Election in May.
We all expected him to concentrate on reducing the deficit, supporting growth and boosting the UK’s economy in the long-term as well as the short-term.
At this delicate time with the General Election only weeks away, it was bound to be a safe rather than spectacular budget but there were some changes in there which will be welcomed by business such as abolishing National Insurance for under-21s and annual tax returns for small businesses as well as pledging cash to roll out superfast broadband.
Throughout the hustings events which the Chamber has organised throughout the area including Brownsover Hall in Rugby, we have been challenging our prospective MPs on how they will be supporting economic growth.
It has been a really interesting exercise and the high attendances reflected the interest in politics and that Chamber members wanted to make sure their voices were heard.
The Chamber is politically neutral but we had the opportunity to make sure that the topics related to business which are closest to our hearts were heard – and that they will hopefully be acted on by those in power after May 7.
Another Chamber event which proved popular was the business and trade expo at the Ricoh Arena.
It attracted 130 visitors and about 500 exhibitors which is our highest ever number to underline the need for this kind of event.
As well as exhibition stands, there were workshops, seminars and speed networking and there was a fantastic buzz around the Ricoh Arena as everyone shared ideas, swapped business cards and had a chance to catch-up with old and potentially new clients.
It is always great to see Chamber members doing business with other Chamber members because it not only provides a boost to two businesses but it improves the economy in the area.
The Chamber ensures our local and national politicians are aware of our views and we organised a trip to Westminster primarily for businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire focused on the professional services sector.
We met representatives from the Department for Business Innovation & Skills and the British Chambers of Commerce to discuss subjects as ensuring the next generation has the skills which employers need, unnecessary red tape and the importance of attracting young people into business.
This is going to be a very interesting few weeks with the General Election just round the corner and whatever the outcome, the Chamber will be here to continue representing views of businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire.