BLACK Country Chamber of Commerce has called on the Chancellor to create the optimum conditions to promote growth, enterprise and innovation ahead of his Autumn Statement next week.

Chamber president Paul Bennett is urging George Osborne to create a pro-business environment, to allow firms to grow without the fear of anti-competitive tax levels and red-tape.

He said: “British manufacturing has clearly suffered in recent decades. However, there is potential for the sector to recover.

“The Government must do more to help revive the industry, which is a vital source of skills, jobs and economic prosperity in the UK. A two per cent reduction in Employer’s National Insurance for manufacturing businesses would provide a real incentive for companies to take on more staff.

“For the UK economy to grow and rebalance the Government must give greater support to SMEs wishing to enter overseas markets. Manufacturing export balances nationally fell during Q3 to a level well below their average 2007 pre-recession levels.

“In order to bolster the UK’s export prospects the Government must prioritise aviation policy. It is imperative that the Government ensures that all UK strategic airports are exploited to their existing capacity.

“Attention should not solely focus on the South East airports but on locations throughout the UK. Birmingham Airport has the capacity to double its passenger numbers immediately.

“Providing that access routes to regional airports, such as Birmingham, via rail and road are improved this would provide enhanced competition between airport operators and would relieve pressure on airports in the South East.”

Mr Bennett added “We are urging the Government to reconsider its decision to opt out of the Schengen Agreement, as it appears the move could be deterring non-EU trade visitors from investing in the UK.

“The channels for inward investment to the UK must be more structured, as is the case with our European counterparts. The Chamber would strongly advocate the strengthening of UKTI within the context of a national strategy based on local delivery.

“Export support, however, must be flexible enough to take advantage of the opportunities provided by changing economic circumstances.”