There’s some hope amidst the dire economic outlook

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WARNING bells have been sounded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Britain is facing a second recession.

George Osborne painted a stark picture in the opening minutes of his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons yesterday.

But there were also glimmers of hope that the UK’s businesses are to be given a helping hand.

He unveiled a number of measures to keep inflation down – such as postponing a rise in fuel duty – and ways to help attract economic growth in the country.

Those measures include making it cheaper for small businesses to borrow money to help them get started, an extension to the business rates ‘holiday’ for establishing companies, and a boost to exports.

The moves have been welcomed by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jimmy Chestnutt.

He said: ‘The introduction of £40bn to underwrite loans for small and medium sized businesses is very welcome and is forecast to reduce the burden of interest rates by one per cent for SMEs.

‘The £1bn business-finance partnership to help mid-sized companies is also welcomed, but there will need to be a quick release of both funds to help companies in their recovery and kick-start plans for growth.

‘Other highlights for business include an extension to rate relief up to April 2013 and significant measures to assist start-ups.

‘Although growth has been downgraded and will be much lower than forecast, the chamber is encouraged that the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts that within two years there should be a definitive lift which should provide businesses the right climate in which to plan with more confidence.’