Britain’s manufacturers are urging the Chancellor to use his forthcoming Spending Review and Autumn Budget to set out the Government’s long-term vision for the economy to help boost recovery and business confidence.
The call was made by Make UK, the manufacturers’ association, in publishing its own immediate and medium-term priorities to boost investment. In its submission, Make UK sets out its own views on how the UK can successfully transition to a digital and green future, as well as a vision for ‘Global Britain’ and what that means for UK manufacturers.
Make UK added that given the abandoning of an industrial strategy, in order to encourage boardrooms to make the crucial decision to invest in the UK, and not overseas, a long-term vision for the economy and industry is vital for investors to retain confidence in the UK.
Make UK also urged the Government to itself move on from Brexit, and end the blame game with business over the current significant challenges. Instead, Make UK is calling on the Government to step up working in partnership with business and industry, as it is doing in some areas, to address these challenges in the short, medium and long term.
Furthermore, Make UK emphasised that far from relying on cheap labour, manufacturing is a high skill sector that invests in its workforce and already pays above the national average for the economy overall. Even during the worst period of the pandemic 57% of companies planned to take on an apprentice while 47% intended to this year.
Stephen Phipson, Make UK chief executive, said: “Industry is vital to the future of any new economy. It will also be the solution to not just the major societal and environmental challenges we face in the future but, the need to boost living standards in a practical way across the whole of the UK.
“To encourage the investment in technology and skills we need to help make this realistically happen, Government must set out a long-term vision for the economy that works with the grain of business to promote growth and wealth creation, not against it.
“Currently there is a feeling within industry that the Government is still fighting the last war and sees business as the enemy within. Business has moved on and, Government must do too, working in a spirit of partnership with industry to develop a longer-term economic plan which has enterprise and wealth creation as the fundamental principle. Growth is the right solution to making the most of the opportunities ahead of us and getting the job done.”
According to Make UK, while the manufacturing sector is set to grow strongly this year by 7.1% and 4.2% in 2022, the decision by Government to increase the tax burden for manufacturers means that the sector will not simply bounce back to where it was before the pandemic. Furthermore, history suggests that job cuts are most likely when the economy starts to open again after a downturn because firms need the capital to reset.
Make UK says it is therefore essential that Government recognises the significant challenges that the industry faces, and works with the sector to put in place the necessary immediate, six-month, and twelve month measures to ensure the sector can recover, invest, and grow in the next decade.
This includes focusing on creating a conducive business environment that unlocks further investment and generates revenue from growth rather than increasing the tax burden on business.