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BUSINESSES in Hampshire need greater government support if prospects are to recover this year, a survey by the county’s Chamber of Commerce has shown.

It found concerns over the VAT rise, public sector spending cuts and inflation are keeping business confidence low.

The quarterly economic survey, covering October to December, tracks recruitment, cash flow and orders.

The results were canvassed from members of the Hampshire Chamber.

Jimmy Chestnutt, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber, said: ‘Our members are telling us the VAT rise, its impact on fuel prices and the cuts in public spending at local and national level could together reduce the prospects of any recovery given the other risks we see.

‘While the government is right to raise tax on consumption rather than profits or National Insurance, many businesses will still suffer, especially retailers.

‘The government needs to take further action now to stimulate investment, make recruitment easier, support exporters, and enable businesses to expand.’