Dorset Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “There were some grim figures in the Chancellor’s statement which show just how brutal the impact of the COVID pandemic has been.
“It is clear the economy will continue to be buffeted for some time to come, yet the Chancellor gave some cause for encouragement amid the gloomy outlook.
“His £100bn investment in infrastructure is to be welcomed along with a new UK infrastructure bank, and the launch of a £4bn ‘levelling up fund’ allowing areas to bid directly for funding for local projects offers great potential.
“We must make sure Dorset gets its fair share of the funding available, and a pro-active, dynamic approach will be needed to seize the money on offer.
“Understandably, some businesses owners may be concerned about the minimum wage rises while many in the public sector may be disappointed by their pay freeze.
“The Chancellor has committed to a £3bn package to help more people back into work, which may prove to be a prudent move given the projections of unemployment rising to 7.5 per cent next year with 2.6m people out of work.
“There are going to be more difficult decisions to make and more tough times to come, not least with UK plc shouldering the burden of the cost of the pandemic.
“Dorset firms have consistently demonstrated their resilience but we need to make sure the county benefits from as much Government support as possible to ensure we can emerge from this crisis as quickly and strongly as we can.
“Support remains available for all businesses locally free of charge through the Dorset Gateway service and we encourage people to take advantage of this if they need help.”