Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, pledged to raise the National Living Wage to £10.50 within the next five years.

Additionally, Mr Javid has also promised to lower the age threshold for those who qualify to 21.

The Chamber Network is in support of this scheme, and is backed by extensive qualitative research which suggests that businesses would prefer a simplified minimum wage rate for under-21s as it would minimise the cost and reputational risk of accidental non-compliance.

The cost of doing business is a key concern for organisations across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and we regularly hear from Members who feel as though they are battling their way through the latest legislative changes, fluctuating exchange rates and levy costs.

Fifty-one per cent of businesses surveyed in the Quarterly Economic Survey identified staffing costs as the primary cause of pressure to raise prices.

The government must take action to alleviate the heavy cost burden facing businesses or risk unsettling productivity and competitiveness.

The Chancellor also revealed a host of new plans to improve transport and broadband connectivity, announcing extra funding for towns and rural areas across England. Sajid Javid revealed a further £5 billion will be allocated to full-fibre broadband, and a further £220 million for buses.

Gaps in broadband continue to stifle business efficiency, and we frequently hear from businesses across the counties who struggle with little to no coverage. It is these ‘not spots’ that require increased support to aid remote working and facilitate more modern ways of doing business, like in shared office facilities and innovative working spaces.

As we head towards the October 31 deadline, our business communities continue to call for further clarity to completely avoid a messy and disorderly exit from the EU.

As welcome as the Chancellor’s plans are, the government’s top priority should be to avoid an unwanted no deal scenario – or be prepared to back our businesses.

To find out how the Chamber can support you in getting Brexit ready, please visit our comprehensive support page at hwchamber.co.uk/support/advice/is-your-business-brexit-ready.