Editor’s blog

Posted on 31 Aug 2011 by The Manufacturer

Jane Gray considers the week that was and gives some insight into the September edition of The Manufacturer.

Talking to a number of industry representatives in the run up to our Manufacturer Directors Conference (MDC) on November 9, gathering opinion and advice as to what the event should address, our team at TM have come across repeated references the vacuum within government rhetoric when it comes to industrial policy.

But perhaps this week we are seeing some signs that all the promising talk of economic rebalance is coming good.

The embarrassing furore over the choice of Siemens , rather than British based Bombardier, as industry partner to the lucrative Crossrail project has apparently hit government hard enough to cause a rethink.

While Siemens is still the preferred partner for the long awaited rail project an announcement this week that project will be delayed may mean a glimmer of hope for British manufacturers in relevant sectors. The stalling of the project from 2013 to 2014 should save overall costs to the tax payer but will also give government the chance to submit the recommendations Vince Cable pledged to issue, on reforming EU procurement regulations for projects like Crossrail.

But we all know the EU can be hard to influence. As EEF’s Steve Radley pointed out in the August issue of TM, with only 9% voting rite in the European Parliament, Britain must first focus on gaining EU allies before it can truly hope to put pressure on the regulations blocking national prosperity and competition.

But what about regulation a little closer to home?
In the September issue of TM our lead story focuses on engagement between government and industry and considers the best ways and means for effecting regulatory change. Again, the need for a more proactive approach from manufacturing professionals themselves in influencing policy in its formative stages, is a theme which has come out strongly during research for our flagship conference, MDC.

This year access to finance is likely to be a heated talking point among delegates at the above event, though probably not in the terms usually used in the mainstream press.

Anecdotal evidence, backed up by recent research from EEF shows that access to finance is not in itself a problem for manufacturing firms. The banks, spurred on by the Merlin Project and other government incentives are offering more loans than ever. The rub comes when it is revealed that the cost of these loans is unreasonable.

Another perspective is that many manufacturing firms do not want loans. They want to fund business development projects with their own hard earned cash, but are restricted in doing so by the controls that banks place over spending.

How can manufacturers combat these challenges? MDC will provide an ideal forum for discussion and I hope to hear many more experiences and recommendations from readers throughout the day.