An industrial strategy would be welcomed by many UK manufacturers, but government needs to take the strategy to the next level and fill in the gaps –whatever the final Brexit deal looks like.
The industrial strategy call comes alongside a new survey published today by EEF and carried out by YouGov showing substantial and ambitious public backing for the UK to be a top five manufacturing nation by output.
The survey also shows clear public support for government backing for industry, with 82% of adults saying a strong manufacturing base is essential for the UK economy’s future prosperity.
In the Policy Digest – Making the Industrial Strategy Work for UK Manufacturing – EEF sets out how the final draft of the industrial strategy can match the ambition of manufacturers and the nation by providing greater clarity of support for industry as there is in other countries.
EEF chief economist, Lee Hopley explained: “The UK is facing a potentially game-changing point as we leave the EU while the sector is also on the cusp of massive technological change and grappling with long-term investment decisions.
“These challenges will continue regardless of what shape the final Brexit deal takes. Industry will have to be nimble in navigating challenges and quickly grasping new opportunities in order to fulfil public ambition for Britain to be a dominant manufacturing nation.”
EEF sets out in the paper what steps government must take to achieve this in the final draft of the strategy:
- Set out a clear vision of what a successful outcome for Britain looks like, including clear metrics to track progress
- Include a focus on the cost of doing business, which is missing in the strategy. The cost base underpins the competitiveness of the UK as a location for manufacturing
- Provide guidance on the Sector Deals process to clarify the rules and ensure SMEs can engage
- Set out a plan to roll out Devolution Deals to all areas of England, the first draft limits ambition to just cities
- Outline how cross-government policy consistency will be achieved, to avoid different departments undermining the objectives of the strategy and each other
According to official data, manufacturing matters to the future of Britain with higher than average pay than services, productivity growth three times faster than the whole economy average, and delivering 68% of business R&D.
Furthermore, other data from EEF surveys show manufacturers are already ambitious in their efforts with 75% of companies going for growth, 92% planning to step up their innovation efforts, and 78% enhancing co-operation with their supply chain to improve processes.