The food manufacturing industry needs investment in skills, incentives for R&D, encouragement for environmental initiatives and less restrictive employer regulations, according to the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) budget submission ahead of Alistair Darling’s address next Wednesday.
“Food security is at the top of the agenda nationally and globally,” said Melanie Leech, director general of the FDF. “This must be the year that the Chancellor recognises the strategic importance of the food and drink manufacturing industry, giving a clear signal of confidence to investors and potential industry entrants alike.”
The FDF says there should be a three year phase-in for the EU Temporary Agency Workers Directive and that plans to increase employers’ National Insurance contributions in 2011 should not go ahead at this stage. It also wants “clarity”on trade credit insurance.
“If, as widely expected,” continued Leech, “the Chancellor announces a ‘green budget’, the Government must not rely on headline-grabbing initiatives such as tax breaks for electric cars.
“We need a stimulus package to support our members’ commitment through FDF’s ground-breaking Five-Fold Environmental Ambition, to reduce their environmental impact. We need investment in a national infrastructure on energy from waste – for example through anaerobic digestion – and combined heat and power, and would welcome Government incentives to encourage industry to take these up.”
The FDF was keen to point out that food production is the largest single manufacturing industry with a collective turnover of £72.6bn and a staff of 440,000 – roughly 14% of all manufacturing workers in the UK.