CHANCELLOR Jeremy Hunt must do everything he can in tomorrow's Autumn Statement to unlock urgently needed business investment, says Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.

The county’s "voice of business" believes targeted tax cuts for firms are the best way to stimulate investment and boost growth amid continuing economic stagnation and uncertainty.

It comes after the Office for National Statistics confirmed zero growth in gross domestic product in the third quarter of the year.

Daily Echo: Ross McNally is chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of CommerceRoss McNally is chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce (Image: Hampshire Chamber of Commerce)

Ross McNally, the Chamber's chief executive, said: "Our members are facing significant challenges to their immediate working capital and longer-term trading activities.

“After three years of economic shocks, they are now having to deal with the corrosive drag of inflation, interest rates, and rising energy bills.

READ MORE: I will deliver an autumn statement for growth, says Chancellor Jeremy Hunt   

"High borrowing costs create a double whammy. It means more expensive operating costs just at the time when demand is dampened from customers feeling the squeeze too.

“Coupled with this, recruitment challenges persist because of labour skills shortages, adding further to the costs of trading.

Daily Echo: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will present the Autumn Statement in the House of Commons on November 22Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will present the Autumn Statement in the House of Commons on November 22 (Image: PA)

“While inflation must be tamed, the Chancellor should be bold and take targeted steps to ease the tax burden on business.

“We call on him to extend the capital allowance scheme that allows firms to deduct the full cost of investments in IT equipment, plant and machinery from their profits, the so-called ‘full expensing’ regime.

“Mr Hunt could extend this by a year or longer, or make it permanent. Any move in that direction would be welcome as a way to incentivise business investment.

“At the same time, he could announce more help on business rate relief, take steps to tackle delays in the planning system and provide more support measures for training and recruitment, and employees’ occupational health.

READ MORE: Cash-strapped Southampton City Council axes another 50 jobs and may need emergency loan

“For those Hampshire businesses selling into overseas markets, the government needs to champion the prospects for a globalised UK through a long-term export drive.

“The Chancellor must encourage more mid-size firms to aim for the opportunities that become available in global markets. That will require a major shift in support for exporting now and in the years to come."

Mr McNally also urged the government to enhance the trading landscape by improving the country's infrastructure.

He added: “We need to see a clear, long-term growth strategy that tackles weak economic performance, builds climate resilience, encourages global trade, and improves the overall outlook for firms."