Economy

Last Friday I joined a group of local business people at Wiston House for a lunch organised by Sussex Enterprise.

A third of local firms say that skills shortages are holding them back, new regulations introduced since 1998 have cost Sussex businesses £2.3 billion and poor transport links are costing another £2 billion a year - or £29,000 a year for each business.

Worryingly, 14 per cent of coastal West Sussex businesses will consider relocating outside Sussex unless the transport infrastructure improves soon.

So businesses were hoping for a Budget that would get the economy moving.

This Government's economic mismanagement has brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy.  But all we got yesterday was the usual political positioning.

There was no credible plan to deal with the debt, no serious plan to boost the economy and spending decisions have been postponed until after the election.

Instead of reducing the burden of tax and red tape, the Government will raise £19 billion from extra taxes and much of this will fall on businesses. 

And we're still going to have a 1 per cent rise in National Insurance contributions - a measure the Federation of Small Businesses believe will cost 57,000 jobs.

This year and next, the Chancellor will have to borrow more than his entire income tax take.  For every £4 he now spends, £1 must be borrowed.

Gordon Brown likes to blame the banks, and they have some responsibility, but the downturn started before the financial crisis, and he had already run up a huge deficit in the good times.

We should have used the years of growth in the South East to invest for the future in infrastructure and skills.  Instead, millions have been blown on wasteful spending, like the endless local health reorganisations.

As my meeting with Sussex Enterprise reminded me, it is business which creates the wealth and employment we need.  We desperately need to restore the principles of enterprise, wise spending and value for money - but that will require a new government and a new start.

Michelle Taylor