Dozens of business leaders from across Lancashire attended the launch of a national report from the British Chambers of Commerce. 

Organised by the North & Western Lancashire Chamber, the setting for the launch was the Daniel Thwaites HQ in the heart of the county. 

Watched on by curious shire horses, business leaders from all sectors gathered to hear the third of five policy documents being published by the BCC’s new Business Council as part of the ‘Future of Economy’ project. The report draws on expertise from businesses of all sizes and sectors, academia and think-tanks. 

Sixteen policies have been set out in the document which could transform the UK’s growth potential by linking businesses, communities and local government. 

Booths Supermarket executive chair, Edwin Booth, spoke passionately at the launch about how skills and the shortage of workers are slowing down the local economy from thriving. 

In a Q&A with Baroness Martha Lane Fox, president of the BCC, Edwin said: “Only by working together will businesses be able to steer this rudderless ship through the choppy economic waters we find ourselves in.

“The government needs to take responsibility for the economy and give communities some hope for the future, only then will we see an upturn in the economy. Having a stronger economy makes people feel good. Skills and staff shortages are top of everyone’s lists, particularly in the retail sector.” 

The reports’ proposals aim to increase the productivity of the local economy by letting businesses capitalise on the opportunities provided if their areas are more sustainably focused and digitally enabled. 

And it recognises that for places to thrive then three forces need to come together – the community, business and local government. 

Among the themes to emerge in the work of the report are the need to provide local government with more resource to speed up its capabilities and capacity around infrastructure planning and transport. 

It also identified that the tax system must do more to incentivise the growth of small and medium sized firms by reforming business rates, VAT and tourism charges. 

Martha Lane Fox, President of the British Chambers of Commerce and Chair of the Business Council, said: “While much else has changed in that time, the devolution of power and authority to those best placed to decide what works for their local economies has been too slow. 

“In this digital age, and on the cusp of a new green industrial revolution, we must finally shift the balance. If we get this right, it will give our local economies, their businesses and communities the best possible chance to thrive in the 21st Century.” 

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: 

“Local economies play an indispensable role in fostering prosperity and sustainable growth within our communities. Emphasising their significance is crucial in promoting self-sufficiency, boosting job creation, and preserving the unique character of our regions. 

 “By nurturing our local businesses and industries, we reinforce socio-economic resilience, empowering both individuals and communities.”