Chris Plant: International Women’s Day, the Spring Budget & National Careers Week

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It’s been a whirlwind week at Commerce House as we’ve unpacked the Spring Budget, celebrated National Careers Week and today hosted one of the biggest-ever International Women’s Day events in Staffordshire’s history!

For our #IWD2024 celebrations, we had the pleasure of welcoming three fantastic speakers to the DoubleTree by Hilton – where we were joined by hundreds of guests from across the county.

Visonary founder of Absolute Collagen, Maxine Laceby, Moddershall Oaks Director Penny Weston and Plinkfizz MD Fiona Hawkins delivered outstanding keynote speeches to the sold-out room – all truly compelling stories and a pleasure to listen to.

Kirsty Hulse returned as our guest host helping to complete a morning of inspiration and celebration. Thank you to everyone who attended on the day and for making the morning such a success.

Wednesday saw the Chancellor deliver the Spring Budget.

I was pleased to note the Chancellor’s decision to increase the VAT threshold from £85,000 to £90,000 – a move that is very welcome for small businesses. Staffordshire Chambers has actively advocated for this adjustment, addressing concerns raised by businesses with turnovers under £85,000.

The Chamber also welcomed the Chancellor’s plan to extend permanent full expensing to leased assets. This is a tax break which allows companies to deduct the full cost of investing in machinery and equipment from their tax bill.

While we applaud these positive steps, we continue to lobby for additional reforms, such as reforms to the planning system, national grid upgrades, and expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
I had the pleasure of attending two brilliant events that unpacked what the budget means for local businesses.

On the evening of the budget, IronMarket Wealth hosted a Budget Breakdown event, where Wes Wilkes, CEO of NTWRK, and Rob Heath, Director of Wealth, shared invaluable perspectives on the budget’s implications. The following morning, I attended Dains Accountants’ Post Budget breakfast at the Bet365 Stadium, delving into the impacts on businesses and the changes that are set to impact both individuals and clients.

Two brilliant events and it was great to see so many local businesses in attendance!

On Tuesday, I had the privilege of attending the launch of the Construction Skills Hub and Advanced Construction Centre at Stoke-on-Trent College.

The Construction Skills Hub brings together the industry-standard facilities, expertise and equipment that can be found at the College’s Burslem Campus. It responds to the skills needs set out in the new government Local Skills Improvement Plan, led by the team here at Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.

Guests were treated to a showcase of students’ work from T Level and Apprenticeship programmes, including the opportunity to see a range of drone-based activities now being used in the construction industry. A thoroughly enjoyable event!

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: [email protected]

Tom Hammersley

Digital Content Officer at Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. BA hons journalism graduate.

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