Government must speed up plans for industrial strategy, says EEF

MANUFACTURERS are urging the Government to speed up its plans for a new industrial strategy, otherwise firms' growth plans could 'fall by the wayside'.

Andy Tuscher of the EEF
Andy Tuscher of the EEF

The EEF said swift implementation of the strategy was vital as companies cope with the Brexit uncertainty.

Research among 135 business leaders showed that three out of four are actively planning to grow and almost as many are focused on driving up productivity.

The EEF said policies must help to deliver a more skilled workforce, improved infrastructure and also a lower cost of doing business.

Andy Tuscher, the Yorkshire and Humber region director at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said today: “We need to get this right and we need to get this in place now so that manufacturers’ growth ambitions are supported across the pre and post-Brexit divide. It is not enough to talk about an industrial strategy – it is time for the Government to draw a line under the stop-go efforts of the past and to demonstrate its commitment to industry by putting some much-needed flesh on the bones.

“Manufacturers are not just talking about future growth – they have firm plans in place to make it happen.

“Their ambition and drive will help get the sector and our economy on the road to stronger, better-balanced growth, but this must be matched by Government.

“If we are to stay the distance and realise the full benefits for the UK then complacency is not an option.

“A consistent long-term industrial strategy can help us make more of what we have and develop the growth drivers of the future.

“We must strive for better productivity, increased trade and more ambitious investment in new technologies. Government can underpin this by supporting higher skills, investing in infrastructure, lowering the cost of doing business and providing world class support for growing businesses.”

Andrew Morton, the relationship director, for corporate and commercial banking, Yorkshire and the Humber, at NatWest, which helped to compile the report, said: “We have some amazing manufacturing businesses in this country.

“The industry is a significant part of the UK economy and it is vital that businesses are given the right support in order to compete globally and succeed.

“As this report clearly indicates, a long term industrial strategy will help UK manufacturers to compete and succeed in the future.

The study - Manufacturing Ambitions: an industrial strategy for a stronger economy - argues that supply chain collaboration is critical to growth.

More than half of manufacturers (52 per cent) are already enhancing cooperation in areas such as production, design and development and a further quarter (26 per cent) are planning to do so.

An EEF spokesman said: “The depth of collaboration may be a surprise to those outside of industry, with 67 per cent of manufacturers already working with their supply chain on product design and development.”

“Innovation and the introduction of new business models are coming to the fore as companies pursue growth.

“Over nine in ten are either already increasing innovation efforts (63 per cent) or plan to do so within the timeframe of their current business plan (29 per cent).”

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said: “As the EEF report makes clear, manufacturing makes a far wider contribution to the economy than the 10 per cent share of the UK’s GDP suggests.

“That’s why we’re focused on developing an industrial strategy that will boost productivity, create good jobs and ensure sustainable economic growth.”