Budget 2023: Battery tech goes missing

1 min read

Interesting that while the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt placed both artificial intelligence and quantum computing at the heart of his announcements concerning the UK’s technology sector, little mention was made of the battery supply chain and the automotive industry in his recent Budget statement.

He talked at length about carbon capture but no mention of a sector that is likely to play a critical role in the global economy.

Prior to the Budget the automotive sector had been calling on the government for help via tax incentives, improved workforce upskilling, and green energy investment. All of which were seen as critical in preventing the UK falling behind in global electric vehicle race.

Commenting on the failure to mention the sector in his statement, Matt Hardwick a partner at the legal firm Akin Gump said that, “Given the fundamental importance of the industry sector, it was  surprising to see no pledge from the Chancellor to support the build out of battery manufacturing capacity in the UK.”

He went on to warn that without a clear strategy to build out electronic vehicle (EV) and energy storage battery manufacturing capacity, the UK risked seeing its supply requirements being exported and with it the associated value, jobs and skills creation opportunity.

“In the context of EV batteries, it is also likely to herald the export of a significant part of our EV manufacturing capacity, given the desire by EV manufacturers to co-locate or integrate these two aspects of the EV value chain.”

It was certainly a serious omission and as Hardwick commented, “We have to hope that the Government has left something in the tank, so to speak, and that we will see announcements for support in this critical area in weeks to come.”

Unless the UK can build several massive new battery factories, there are those who believe that the  British car industry is finished.

But it’s not just the car industry here in the UK. The Government has still to make any announcement concerning the UK semiconductor industry.

There’s still no industrial strategy to speak of either, at a time when Europe and the US are investing billions in new green technologies and are developing their own domestic semiconductor industry.

If ‘Global’ Britain is to be anything other than an empty slogan of Brexiteers, then we really do need to develop a radical, huge and well-funded economic and industrial policy that nurtures the industries of the future.

But to begin with, a plan - any plan - might be good!