Richard Osborne, CEO and founder of UK Business Forums (UKBF), says: “The cost of living crisis is a desperate situation for both businesses and huge swathes of our society, yet today’s announcement seemed to ignore the reality and severity of what thousands of small business owners are going through every single day.

“Small business owners are often referred to as ‘the backbone of the UK economy’, but how can that realistically continue without immediate and significant support from the Government?

“Getting rid of the NI increase is one move the Government should make, but it isn’t going to make a huge dent. The increased costs in supply chains, especially around international trade, need to be addressed. The cost per container to import has skyrocketed, and this is in addition to eye-watering fuel and energy prices.

“Tax in the UK is at the highest it has been for some 70 years. The two pence drop in the basic rate of income tax will provide some help, but that’s not for another two years! Businesses need help now and, without it, there’s no question that thousands will fold long before this comes into force.

“Business owners and the people they employ are being dealt blows from all directions. There is the increase in inflation, pressure to make salary increases because staff are suffering from the increased cost of living, and this is all on top of spiralling supply chain costs, and the increased and uncapped costs of energy.

“The Government needs to act, and it needs to do it now.”