THE group that represents businesses in Ludlow and south Shropshire says whoever becomes Prime Minister must act quickly to help struggling businesses.

Shropshire Chamber of Commerce is backing a four-point plan which it says the new Prime Minister must put in place to tackle ‘huge challenges’ facing the economy.

The British Chambers of Commerce has written to the two finalists in the Conservative party leadership battle, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, spelling out urgent economic priorities the winner will need to address.

The letter from director-general Shevaun Haviland says: “This contest is happening amidst huge challenges facing our economy. Having made it through the pandemic, businesses are now battling labour and skills shortages; soaring energy, raw materials and other costs; and supply chain challenges.”

Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber, added: “The results of our own quarterly economic survey, published earlier this month, showed that Shropshire’s economy is on a knife edge right now.

“Whoever wins the leadership election must focus on reversing these damaging trends and pressures, and fix the fundamentals to support growth.”

The Chamber network has earmarked four priority areas for the next Prime Minister to boost business confidence and drive the economy.

One of these is to change the immigration system so to make it easier for businesses to recruit the staff they need. Brexit has made it harder to get workers, especially in sectors like hospitality and agriculture that are very important for the economy in south Shropshire.

The Chamber also wants business to be helped to exploit overseas markets and to make the changes needed to go green.

There is also a need to reduce the tax burden on business to enable them to cope with increasing costs.

“There is no doubt that our economy is facing huge challenges,” said Mr Sheehan.

“The highest ranking ‘fear factor’ is inflation, and there is also growing concern over the direction of interest rates, all of which impacts on business running costs.

“Skills shortages remain a massive issue. Nearly three quarters of businesses tell us they are experiencing recruitment issues, companies want to expand, but in many cases are simply unable to find the right people.”