A bold economic vision

2 mins read

Make UK, Britain’s manufacturers organisation, has called on the next Government, whatever its political persuasion, to offer a bold economic vision that puts the importance of the economy across every Ministerial portfolio.

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The organisation has published a manifesto that calls for bold, long-term industrial strategy that should be announced within the first hundred days, along with four other specific policy measures. This strategy calls for a skills revolution throughout the education and training system to provide future talent, as well as the upskilling and re-training of the current workforce.

According to Make UK such a policy would provide a shock to the UK economy that would help it exit the ‘anaemic holding pattern’ of the past few years and enable it to take advantage of the opportunities provided by rapidly accelerating technologies, investment in infrastructure and the move to a greener economy.

A policy framework for the economy beyond 2030 is also essential to counter the march of the US and China in green technologies in particular, as well as the need to make the UK as attractive a destination as possible for investment given the rate at which other countries are gearing up.

According to the manifesto there are five specific measures that Make UK is calling for in the first hundred days of the next Government. These include:

  • Announce a long-term modern Industrial Strategy to underpin all economic policymaking which has cross Government commitment. This should be backed by the re-introduction of an Industry Strategy Council and a new Cabinet Office backed Committee to ensure the implementation of the Strategy across Government
  • Align the UK CBAM (Carbon Border adjustment Mechanism) with the EU CBAM in terms of timescale and design to provide a level playing field with the EU
  • Commence a root-and-branch review of the Apprenticeship Levy as a funding mechanism, as well as the wider apprenticeship system
  • Re-establish an updated, modern Manufacturing Advisory Service
  • Establish a mechanism for ongoing and active consultation with industry to decide where it is appropriate to maintain alignment with EU regulatory changes or, where opportunities for divergence might apply

Commenting, Make UK CEO, Stephen Phipson, said, “The policy landscape in which manufacturers operate has changed significantly in recent years and more changes are yet to come, from the transition to net zero to rapidly accelerating and game-changing technological change.  To keep up with these changes and, take advantage of the many opportunities ahead, not to mention the threats from other countries we need a vision from the next Government which recognises the scale of these challenges.

“This vision must include a long-term, robust, modern industrial strategy that will withstand political chop and change and goes beyond 2030. Any plan should go beyond parliamentary cycles, be cross Government, and be driven by industry, for industry.”

According to Make UK, the overall economic vision should be driven by ten key themes which are included in the manifesto. These are:

  1. A long-term and robust industrial strategy
  2. Maximising the opportunities of a net zero economy
  3. Grow and develop future manufacturing talent
  4. Retrain and upskill the current workforce
  5. Unlock innovation, support commercialisation and accelerate digital adoption and automation
  6. Create the right conditions for business to invest
  7. Boost manufacturing exports across the globe
  8. Invest in physical and digital infrastructure
  9. Build the Future Factory with AI
  10. Make supply chains more resilient

All the main parties have yet to produce their manifestos for the 2024 election but I doubt any of them would disagree with the ten key themes listed above.

None of them are new, however. We’ve been talking about developing talent for years; likewise boosting exports and the need for an industrial strategy.

What we do need is a government that really is focused on delivery, we don't need another five years or empty or overblown rhetoric. We also need a far more honest debate around Brexit and the problems that has caused businesses in the UK.

I wish I was more confident that after July 4th things will change.