CAMBRIDGESHIRE Chambers of Commerce is calling on the Government to reconsider a proposed increase in national insurance contributions because of the risk of inhibiting growth in the region. The one per cent increase in NICs, scheduled for April 2011, should be replaced by a one per cent increase in VAT, according to chief executive John Bridge. The call comes following a national survey showing that three-quarters of SMEs believe the worst effects of the recession are not over for their business. A third of the SMEs surveyed said that a VAT increase would be the least damaging to their business when compared to increases in national insurance contributions, corporation tax, fuel duty and capital gains tax. More than one in five said they would absorb the cost of the increased NICs by limiting staffing levels, which would have a negative knock-on effect to the labour market. Mr Bridge said the Government needed to offer incentives to businesses rather than costs.