Manufacturing industry reacts to the Autumn Budget 2023

Posted on 22 Nov 2023 by Lanna Deamer

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's 'Autumn Statement for Growth' on Wednesday, November 22, highlighted tax cuts for both working individuals and British businesses.

The plan aims to strengthen the economy by increasing business investment by £20bn annually, promoting employment and implementing the largest work-related tax cut since the 1980s for 29 million workers.

The Chancellor revealed a series of supply-side measures and funding packages designed to support businesses and local communities.

  • £4.5bn of funding for British manufacturers in the high-growth industries of the future, including £960m earmarked for the Green Industries Growth Accelerator to support clean energy.
  • Permanent Full Expensing: From April 2023 until the end of March 2026, companies can claim 100% capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery investments
  • The government has published its full response to the Winser review and Connections Action Plan, which will cut grid access times for larger projects by half, halve the time to build major grid upgrades and offer up to £10,000 off electricity bills over ten years for those living closest to new transmission infrastructure.
  • Three advanced manufacturing Investment Zones will be established in Greater Manchester, East Midlands, and West Midlands – together generating £3.4bn of private investment and creating 65,000 high-quality jobs within the next decade.
  • The Investment Zones programme and freeport tax reliefs will be extended from five years to ten years, and a new £150m Investment Opportunity Fund will support Investment Zones and Freeports to secure specific business investment opportunities.
  • Four new devolution deals across England have been agreed. Mayoral deals with Greater Lincolnshire and Hull and East Yorkshire, and non-mayoral deals with Lancashire and Cornwall, will boost investment right across the country and deliver on the Prime Minister’s commitment to levelling-up.
  • £500m of funding over the next two years will help establish two more Compute innovation centres, supporting the development of artificial intelligence as a growth opportunity for Britain.
  • The life sciences will also be supported as one of the Chancellor’s key-growth sectors, with £20m to speed up the development of new dementia treatments coming as part of the government’s full response to the O’Shaughnessy Review of commercial clinical trials in the UK.
  • To prioritise those who want to invest in the UK’s future, the government has accepted in principle the headline recommendations of Lord Harrington’s review into increasing foreign direct investment. This includes additional resource for the Office for Investment, allowing it to deepen its world-class concierge offer to strategically important investors.

But how has the recent announcement been received by the manufacturing industry?

Manufacturers react to the statement:

Commenting on the Autumn Statement, Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK, said: “This was a bold statement by the Chancellor who has worked hard to understand industry’s needs and deliver a transformational strategy designed to turbo charge investment.

“Manufacturers will applaud this focus on addressing the painful Achilles heel that has troubled the economy for decades. The biggest factor that companies want when planning investment decisions is certainty in policy and this has now been provided by making full expensing permanent.

“Industry will also welcome measures to boost engineering apprenticeships and stimulate advanced manufacturing, which will be vital in boosting high value growth and high skill employment in the economy of the future.

“The Chancellor has worked closely with Make UK and promised an autumn statement with manufacturing at its heart. He has delivered on that commitment and it is now down to industry to pick up the gauntlet.”

On full expensing, Fhaheen Khan, Senior Economist, said: “Making full expensing permanent shows the Chancellor is serious about promoting business investment and bringing an end to continual, short-term policy sugar rushes in favour of a stable and steady approach to improving productivity and growth.

“Manufacturing is the most investment intensive sector with the majority of companies having long-term cycles of five to seven years. This change reflects that and will provide companies with the certainty and stability they have long been craving for, while making the UK a top five nation in its attractiveness to global corporations who are looking for the best places to invest.”

In a Make UK survey published in October, more than half of companies (54%) said frequent changes to investment incentives in recent years had deterred investment. By contrast, less than a fifth (18%) said frequent changes had helped investment.

On the Apprentice Levy, Verity Davidge, Director of Policy, said: “The Chancellor’s recognition of the value of engineering apprenticeships is a vote of confidence in the manufacturers across the country providing these opportunities. £50m of investment in a pilot scheme geared towards increasing the number of apprentices in engineering and manufacturing, as well as other growth sectors, is an important step forward in reversing the recent decline in starts.

“It will also provide the right support for the many manufacturers who have long called for better support from the government to invest in training. We look forward to continuing our engagement with the government on taking this pilot scheme forward.”

On Investment Zones, James Brougham, Senior Economist said: “The Chancellor has listened to concerns held by industry that the previous five-year time frame for fiscal incentives in Investment Zones will be too short to maximise investment potential. With today’s announcement that these will be extended to ten years and the funding envelope for flexible spending doubled to £160m, the sector will be assured that the government is committed to a longer-term plan to boost investment.

“Long-term business environment and policy confidence from the government is what the sector has needed to drive forward investment and today’s announcement makes great strides towards that goal.”

EngineeringUK responds to Autumn Statement 2023, Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive, said: “The Chancellor highlighted the importance of skills in his autumn statement, yet there was little to address widespread issues in the skills systems. We welcome the modest announcement of £50m for engineering apprenticeships, but are concerned that this is limited to a two-year pilot to explore ways to stimulate training in these sectors and address barriers to entry in high-value standards.

“As outlined in our recent report ‘Fit for the Future’, we need large scale investment in getting more apprenticeships for young people off the ground now and to ensure that the country has the engineering and technology workforce it needs for the future. We urge the government to take a bolder approach.”

Bekki Phillips, Chief Operating Officer of In-Comm Training, one of the UK’s leading training providers said: “After decades of being in the shadows of universities, it was refreshing to see vocational learning play such a prominent role in the Chancellor’s speech today.

“The headline will no doubt be the £50m additional investment in pilots that encourage more apprenticeships into engineering and manufacturing.

“This is music to our ears as a specialist provider to this sector and comes just a few weeks after we announced our record cohort intake, with 200 new apprentices recruited at our Aldridge and Telford academies. In reality, we had a further 40 vacancies at local employers, so the company demand is definitely there.

“It was also pleasing to see an increase in wages for apprentices for their first year of training. This is significant and will mean that vocational learners will be further valued as members of the workforce rather than, what has traditionally happened, been regarded as cheap labour.

“Hopefully, this will encourage youngsters to embark on an apprenticeship rather than seek employment in areas, such as fast food and retail – sectors that might offer immediate higher returns, but fewer long-term prospects.

“If there was one thing missing from the skills announcement, it was the urgent need to take the training levy a step further, so that it goes beyond apprenticeships and fund qualifications and courses specific to industry needs.

“These are niche courses, but vital if manufacturers are going to bridge the skills gap and tackle the need for emerging skills, such as robotics, automation, machine learning and augmented reality.

“Finally, the Prime Minister mentioned in PMQs that the government was interested in creating an Apprenticeship Education Secretary… yes please!”

Victoria Brocklesby, COO at Origin, commented: “The government is trying to bring down inflation, promote business growth, and lower borrowing, which is always going to be a challenge. However, in this latest Statement, there simply isn’t enough being done to help and encourage British business. Whilst the Chancellor has announced a series of targeted investments in manufacturing, the keyword is targeted. Those who don’t operate in the automotive, aerospace, life sciences, or green industries will not actually benefit. Similarly, with the super deduction, it will only benefit large businesses. But as a nation with a long history of manufacturing, many of our greatest manufacturing businesses do not fall into that category.

“Additionally, whilst an increase to the national living wage is fantastic for workers in the UK and something we are already implementing across the board to lessen the burden of the rising cost of living on our employees, it will inevitably put more pressure on businesses that are navigating the pressures of rising business costs.”

Wayne Carter, Managing Director of Telford manufacturing company, Fabweld Steel Products, said that the Chancellor’s funding boost for the manufacturing sector was a “pleasant surprise” and particularly welcomed the focus to support plans for net zero transition.

The company, which designs access covers for the water, energy and security industries, is committed to operating in a sustainable way and reducing its impact on the environment and has installed solar panels and implemented changes to reduce direct emissions and the emissions related to its energy use.

Wayne said: “The Chancellor’s £4.5bn investment programme shows a real commitment to the industry. But it’s his £960m Green Industries Growth Accelerator that’s really caught our eye. This could prove invaluable.

“Supply chain issues caused by COVID and volatile energy prices highlighted how vulnerable our industry was to geopolitical and world events. That’s why we wanted to take back control – with investment in the greenest way possible – to benefit the planet, the business, customers and employees.

“We’re now seeing our commitment to clean energy at FSP paying off, but we’ve been lobbying local government and parliament for support for a while now, so to feel heard is a huge relief.

“But the fight’s not over yet. All we can do is hope that this investment proves to be transformative for the sector. The UK remains a world-leader in cutting emissions, having decarbonised faster than any G7 country since 1990, but we’ve still a long way to go for manufacturing to play its part in achieving net zero by 2050.”

Henry White, Lead Technologist in Sensing, BAE Systems said: “We welcome the government’s quantum mission plan announced today. Quantum technologies will bring benefits for the country as a whole, as well as provide vital advantage for our armed forces.

“BAE Systems has been delighted to work with the government in shaping our nation’s quantum priorities, and we look forward to playing our part in making the UK a successful home of the quantum revolution.”

Karen McLellan, Financial Director of iconsys, a specialist in the integration of automation, control systems, robotics, and autonomous vehicles said: “There is a definite attempt to improve business confidence today from the Chancellor and, without doubt, the permanent implementation of the ‘super-deduction’ scheme will be welcomed by many given the cash flow benefit and relative ease of the scheme.

“This will be a huge boost to improve the viability of future investment plans for many of our clients and our own ongoing growth and expansion plans.

“That said, this must be balanced against high interest rates which won’t be falling any time soon, which may counter investment plans. The OBR have now downgraded economic growth rates for 2024 and 2025 and the Bank of England are predicting that the economy will be stagnant for some time to come. Therefore, whilst it’s great to see this announcement today, we need a stable economic framework to be able to truly capitalise on it.

“Also welcome was the Chancellor’s recent announcement of a long-term strategy for 2025-2030, with a £ fund for the advanced manufacturing sector – a range of loans and grants that will be available to sectors that we serve, including automotive, aerospace, and green energy to improve the transition to Net Zero and improve competitiveness.

“This is sorely needed and long overdue, as we are clearly lagging behind many of our European counterparts. It’s also encouraging to see the creation of further expansion of investment zones, especially in the West Midlands where our smart factory is based.

“Finally, the announcement of £50m funding to increase apprentices in engineering and other areas where there is a skills shortage is very welcome. This comes at a time when we are already investing in the development of our own online academy to train the cream of future engineering talent to address the shortfall.

“Whereas the announcement is welcome, the amount dedicated to it seems a drop in the ocean of what is needed in the long-term to secure future talent acquisition.”

Tony Hague, CEO of PP Control & Automation, a strategic outsourcing specialist working with 20 of the world’s largest machinery builders, said: “I’ve been relentless for many years about the need for the UK to invest in more automation and technology and the ‘full expensing’ announcement today could well be a significant driver in ‘tipping the balance’.

“It should promote much needed investment to drive productivity and increase efficiencies, offsetting rising input costs around materials, energy, transport, and labour.

“Like all announcements, there is a ‘but’. If the Government changes in the next election, will this important business decision be reversed by new Ministers keen to make their own mark on proceedings? This is what really worries me with no coherent industrial strategy in place.

“For UK manufacturing to thrive, we need long-term thinking and a stable/tax efficient environment.

“Getting people back to work is key, which is why I am all for the £50m apprenticeship boost (devil will be in the detail) and the £2.6bn funding to help the long-term unemployed and those suffering with sickness and illness.

“Hunt suggested this could deliver 200,000 people back into the workplace. That seems a huge number but would certainly be welcomed by employers fishing in a shrinking recruitment pool.

“In summary, the Autumn Statement was a huge improvement on the last mini budget – at least I never thought ‘oh my god, it’s like a Liz Truss moment.”

Johnathan Dudley, Midlands & South West Managing Partner and Head of Manufacturing Business at national audit, tax, advisory and risk firm, Crowe UK said: “The much-anticipated extension of full expensing may not directly benefit SMEs, but it at least confirms full tax deduction in the future… unless, of course, another chancellor reverses it.

“The measures for R&D need close examination, but when referring to life sciences, seem ominous for a manufacturing sector already struggling with a more robust R&D regime, and one which our research implies is disincentivising investment in innovation in the sector.”

Ed Baker, Managing Director at Kingsland Drinks, said: “At Kingsland Drinks, we are relieved that the Chancellor has decided to not hamstring the UK wine and spirits sector even more by a further Excise increase. The recent 1 August increases are making the UK consumer pay some of the highest alcohol taxes in Europe which are now filtering through to higher pricing for them and lower sales for us; an additional rise would have damaged our industry even further.”

Professor Matt Boyle OBE, Executive Chair of DER-IC (Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centres) is calling on government to produce a new industrial strategy to make sure the £4.5bn funding announced for the British manufacturing industry in today’s Autumn Statement is spent in a joined up way which maximises the impact.

Matt leads the DER-IC network which provides open access to expertise and state-of-the-art manufacturing, test, and validation equipment in PEMD (Power Electronics, Machines and Drives). PEMD are the underpinning technologies for electrification, that enable Net Zero and decarbonisation.

Matt said: “The chancellor’s announcement of £4.5billion funding for British manufacturing is great PR for international perceptions of the UK manufacturing investment climate. This is a significant amount of money, and it shows the world the UK is open for business, and ready to innovate across manufacturing sectors.

“Timing wise however the talented network of SME’s that make up our British manufacturing supply chain could do with being able to access this funding now rather than in 2025 – the current economy is making it tough for many innovative small businesses to operate.

“One of its biggest potential benefits is an increase of foreign direct investment. We want innovative business to come to, or stay, in the UK to get access to this pipeline of support to grow and develop manufacturing businesses here, not abroad. The UK has always been viewed as a business-friendly environment and this announcement backs that up.

“What would make this news even better for us as an industry would be an updated Industrial Strategy from the government. There are overlaps between manufacturing sectors on the types of technologies we need to innovate, if two industries are trying to do the same thing rather than working together, it dilutes the impact of both efforts and funding. Our network at DER-IC is working hard to join up these dots and fill any gaps, so the industry can collaborate and work efficiently.

“It is positive to see this level of investment being announced for UK manufacturing. We’re an industry that’s pivotal to both the growth of our economy and transitioning to a net zero society – but we need the vision to go with it.”

Diane Gilpin, Founder, Smart Green Shipping said: “We welcome the announcement of £960m being committed to support the expansion of clean energy supply chains across the UK as it indicates an understanding of the potential of green growth and its benefit to the UK economy.

“But when we’re talking about major infrastructure projects such as carbon capture, upgrading electricity networks or developing offshore wind capacity, it’s a drop in the ocean for what’s actually needed.

“Innovation in climate technologies is happening outside of the UK, leaving us as a follower rather than a leader. We possess the talent and skills to make the UK a pioneer of novel and transformational solutions but that will only happen if the Government provides the right support.

“The Chancellor’s pledge to make full expensing permanent for businesses is of no benefit at all to pioneering SMEs in the critical R&D phase. The only ones that stand to benefit are big business. What we need to focus on is accelerating early-stage innovation. This tax break will simply not move the needle for small businesses.”

Stuart Grant, CEO of ARC said: “It’s encouraging to see the UK government support business in their decision to make full expensing a permanent relief. There’s enormous demand for lab space and once in situ, companies inevitably need to create the right environment and facilities for research, testing and production.

“Although not relevant to all of our members, for those that it is, it might not materially alter their spending intentions, as scaling science and tech companies already have a clear plan to help them realise their strategy. It will, though, see a return on that investment happen sooner, which can only be a good thing. The R&D required for the greatest advances in life sciences innovation require long-term vision and support at government level – and we believe this is recognised by both of the leading parties.”

Alexia Pedersen, VP EMEA at O’Reilly said: “Amidst ongoing economic challenges, the government’s budget plans to stimulate job creation and economic growth are essential. Alongside these measures, the critical importance of upskilling and providing support to individuals returning to the workforce, equipping them with the necessary skills for the digital era cannot be overlooked. The talent gap between available jobs and required skills has been widely discussed, highlighting the need for government intervention to invest in ongoing education and upskilling programmes in emerging technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and cyber security.

“The government needs to prioritise education when outlining measures to alleviate day-to-day living costs. Investing in the future economy means investing in the people and knowledge that drive innovation. By facilitating the transition from benefits to employment through the ‘Back to Work Plan’, we can strengthen the job market and foster sustained growth.

“Strengthening the connection between businesses, individuals, and education is crucial to fostering a lifelong learning and development culture. By providing individuals with hands-on experience through partnerships with businesses, we can reap greater long-term benefits for the job market.”

Anthony Ainsworth, Chief Operating Officer at npower Business Solutions, said: “The Chancellor billed this year’s Autumn Statement as ‘backing UK business’, announcing 110 measures to support growth. From these, there were several things to note.

“Firstly, full expensing will be made permanent. Businesses have told us that they need additional support to make the necessary plant and machinery investments for a more sustainable future, so a permanent tax incentive for major projects will be very welcome.

“Similarly, the £960m for a new Green Industries Growth Accelerator to support clean energy manufacturing, as well as the response to the Winser review to cut grid access delays by 90%, are also positive moves to keep the growth of our renewable energy industry on track. In addition, the publication of a consultation into a new six year Climate Change Agreement could be good news for many businesses.

“However, as always, the devil will be in the detail. For example, the Green Industries Growth Accelerator funding won’t come online until 2025 and will be split across offshore wind, nuclear, CCUS, electricity networks and hydrogen. It also appears that there was no mention of further funding or incentives for energy efficiency, following the £6bn announced in the 2022 Autumn Statement.

“This is where real differences could be made for all organisations, regardless of their size. More support for the ‘low hanging fruit’ such as simple energy efficiency measures, to help them reduce their energy demand and become more sustainable would be hugely beneficial and also help spearhead future growth.”

Adrian Tombling, partner and patent attorney at European intellectual property firm, Withers & Rogers, said: “The Chancellor has announced a package of support worth £4.5bn over five years (2025-2030) to attract investment in strategic manufacturing sectors. The areas to receive support include manufacturers transitioning to net zero, £975m for aerospace firms and £520m for life sciences, including medical research companies.

“This package of support for manufacturers, when combined with R&D tax relief reform and generous changes to capital allowances, is timely support for many businesses as they continue to face challenging and uncertain economic conditions. These changes will encourage business investment and sponsor a sustained focus on innovation.

“The decision to support the establishment of a new Fleming Centre by Imperial College and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust will support the UK’s thriving life sciences industry at a grassroots level.

“The new Growth Fund, established as part of the British Business Bank, will help to facilitate pension fund investment in science and technology businesses; accelerating their growth plans and boosting the economy.”

Brian Fitzgerald, CRO at Augury, said: “In today’s business landscape, the shift towards sustainability isn’t just a trend; it’s a strategic move with tangible benefits. Going green is proving to be a wise investment for long-term financial business goals. We’ve already seen successful transitions in the IT sector with the adoption of green data centres, driven not only by environmental consciousness but by a compelling 40% reduction in electrical bills.

“However, sustainability has an impact beyond finance, as it is also a key factor in attracting and retaining talent. Modern workers seek employers committed to ethical practices and environmental responsibility. It’s about creating jobs aligned with employee values, reducing waste, and optimising processes, making the business more competitive and appealing to a socially conscious workforce.

“In essence, sustainability has a big impact on a business and its bottom-line. It’s a transformative force with a lasting impact on operations. As sustainability becomes part of everyday business practices, its impact will be undeniable.”

Graham Hoare, CEO of the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), commented: “The Autumn Statement should be seen as a call to arms for UK manufacturing. The commitment of £4.5bn of funding for the sector and the development of an Advanced Manufacturing Plan is a clear indication from Government that transforming manufacturing is critical to turbocharging the UK economy. Business needs to be prepared to put their best foot forward to leverage the innovative technology for which Britain is known as a world leader, to boost productivity and sustainability.

“In addition, the Chancellor’s plans to incentivise private sector investment to ensure UK innovations have a commercial payoff are set to create a golden opportunity for industry. Coupled with support from technology and innovation centres like the High Value Manufacturing catapult and the MTC, I believe these commitments signal we really are now on the brink of the next industrial revolution.”

Steve Morley, President of the Confederation of British Metalforming said: “The big win for our members is the ‘full expensing’ announcement.

“I’ve witnessed first-hand how a few of our members have benefitted from investment and hopefully this incentive should give others more fiscal confidence to look at where they can invest, in order to become more efficient or to take advantage of new opportunities they are seeing.

“We were one of 200 businesses and organisations that signed the CBI and Make UK Declaration, and we genuinely believe this decision could prove the difference between thousands of manufacturers pressing the button on new machinery and technology or not.

“Hunt’s £4.5bn package for advanced manufacturing was already announced before the Autumn Statement and was intended to grab headlines. It certainly did that, but the bigger picture is that this support does not start until 2025 (and possibly after another election) and will this vital funding make its way downstream to the tier 1s, tier 2s and tier 3 in the supply chain.

“This is what we’ll be actively lobbying for and ensuring every manufacturer has an opportunity to benefit from grants, collaborative innovation projects or by ring-fencing UK content in big infrastructure and vehicle projects.

“A 10% increase in the minimum wage is good for workers. However, it can push wage inflation inside already squeezed SMEs.

“Whilst most of our members pay above the living wage, we have heard from them that previous rises have kickstarted other employees in their workforce asking for higher wages. This could cut margins even further.”

Made in Britain CEO, John Pearce said: “Lifting the time cap on full expensing on plant and machinery investment is just the sort of long term measure for growth that we know our members will welcome. The three year time cap on the relief, with no certainty about what might happen after that, was simply not enough for the long term investment plans of manufacturing businesses.

“This stimulus can certainly help our manufacturing sector to move the needle on flatlining productivity in an era of industrial transformation and regeneration, crying out for investment in growth.”

Mark Minihane, EY’s UK Advanced Manufacturing and Mobility Tax Leader, comments on support for Advanced Manufacturing announced in  the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement: “Today’s announcement from the Chancellor confirmed funding of £4.5bn for eight manufacturing sub-sectors within the automotive and aerospace industries, starting in 2025/26 and lasting for five years. This is a significant cash injection to help continue driving the development of cutting-edge technology and to support the UK’s transition to net zero.

“The Autumn Statement documents released today claim this funding could support around £2bn of additional business investment per year in UK manufacturing over a 10-year period. There is also the promise of the long-awaited publication of the Advanced Manufacturing Plan and UK Battery Strategy, which will undoubtedly be welcome news across the sector.

“The Government also announced a £960m Green Industries Growth Accelerator (GIGA), which will support investments in manufacturing capabilities for clean energy sectors, as well as three new regional investment zones in the West Midlands, East Midlands and Greater Manchester. Combined, these measures send a clear message of support for the UK’s Advanced Manufacturing sector.

“There are plenty of positives to be taken from today’s announcements. However, favourable conditions are also being created in competing markets through much bigger support packages – such as the USA’s Inflation Reduction Act and the EU Green Deal. Only time will tell as to whether this latest injection of investment will be enough for the UK to retain its crown as a world leader.”

James Wright, Tax Director in EY’s Advanced Manufacturing and Mobility team, said: “The Advanced Manufacturing and Mobility sector continues to call for a consistent and supportive fiscal environment to allow businesses to plan and innovate over long expenditure cycles. The Chancellor had limited wiggle room on tax cuts going into today’s announcement, despite a reduction in inflation figures this week.

“The confirmation that full expensing, which allows a 100% tax deduction on qualifying expenditure, is becoming permanent, will undoubtedly be welcome news – particularly for businesses with long capital expenditure cycles.

“Support was also announced in a bid to bolster Research and Development (R&D), with the merged R&D scheme coming into effect for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2024. This comes with a reduction in the notional tax rate applied to the R&D Expenditure Credit (RDEC) under the merged scheme, meaning an effective post-tax RDEC rate of 16.2%.

“There have also been shifts in what can be claimed, so manufacturing groups will need to consider areas such as subcontracted costs, as well as the fact that it will be possible to claim for subsidised or grant-funded projects. International groups with overseas R&D footprints will also need to consider overseas costs in claims as these will cease to qualify for R&D claims from April 2024. For start and scale-up businesses in the more generous ‘SME R&D-intensive regime’, the intensity threshold will reduce from 40% to 30%, allowing more SMEs to benefit from 14.5% payable credit.

“For employees in the sector, the main rate of Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) will be cut from 12% to 10% from 6 January 2024, which is a marginal boost to the labour force and spending power. As this is collected via Pay As You Earn (PAYE), businesses will need to bring systems up to date accordingly.”

Ian Jones, CEO of WKE Ltd, said: “What a disappointing and underwhelming Autumn Statement – designed to win votes but not impact on issues.

“There was no mention of supporting smaller companies involved in helping the bigger “strategic manufacturing” businesses in the re-use and re-recycle industry or in helping and incentivising decarbonisation.

“We need faster solutions to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, produce more power domestically and transition to net zero.

“Brexit has shown us to be falling behind our European counterparts when it comes to repurposing waste that’s destined for landfill and turning it into clean, alternative fuel. While they’re making strides, we’re still caught up in red tape.

“And while improving investment inwards to the UK was mentioned, there doesn’t seem to be any help for small manufacturing businesses like us who export products overseas.”

Marco Forgione, the Director General of the Institute of Export and International Trade said, “The announcement of the extension of tax reliefs for freeports is exactly right and provides certainty for the businesses which were considering investing in them. Freeports now have the opportunity to take long-term decisions and play a key role in attracting more investment into the UK. The new investment zones, all focused around advanced manufacturing, will strengthen the UK’s position as a leading manufacturing nation.

“The announcements on national insurance, business rates and full capital expensing are all very positive and welcomed by our members. However, it is clear from the Office for Budget Responsibility that growth is still constrained. Our members, and the wider business community, will be looking for much more in the spring which encourages investment and supports UK businesses, who are the backbone of UK growth.

“The failure to define a clear plan for business growth including an import strategy, linked to the current export strategy, was a missed opportunity. However, we welcome the commitment that the government will work closely with businesses to improve the apprenticeship system to meet the needs of learners, employers and training providers. It is vital to make it easier for more micro, small and medium sized businesses to employ apprentices.

Real growth and economic security can only be achieved through unlocking the potential of international trade in every town, city and region of the UK.”

Asif Moghal, Director, Design & Manufacturing Industry Development, Autodesk said: “Autodesk has long been a supporter of the design and manufacturing industry in the UK, working with organisations of all shapes and sizes as they embark on their digital journeys. We see first-hand the real-world challenges faced by the people that lead these incredible organisations. We welcome the news of a £4.5bn investment in the manufacturing industry and look forward to seeing further details.

“This support addresses many of the challenges faced by industry, and should also create a positive knock-on effect to the wider ecosystem where we have seen some manufacturers being cautious to embrace digital transformation.

“Our hope is that this announcement offers renewed confidence that the government is investing in the sector’s future, from skills to sustainability to technology, and we are confident that the sector will keep a firm eye on this to see through the pledges made.”

Hotpoint MD, James Goldsmith, commented on what the announcement means for manufacturers on their journey to net-zero, he said: “The Autumn statement marks a pivotal moment for manufacturers on their journey toward net-zero. Hotpoint welcomes the commitment of £4.5bn towards renewable energy, a decision in-line with the UK Government’s ambition to attain net-zero emissions by 2050. This underscores the urgency for manufacturers to take decisive action in alignment with the UK’s broader environmental goals.

“At Hotpoint, we are dedicated to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030 to create resilient, thriving, and sustainable communities for the future. To achieve our goals, we’ve introduced and continue to implement ambitious measures in our manufacturing plants and distribution centres to attain carbon neutrality. For example, our current appliances consume less water, leave a smaller carbon footprint, and incorporate recycled materials.

“These investments reflect our strong belief in eliminating waste, whether at home, work, or anywhere on Earth. In the UK, we are setting an example by leading the way in zero landfill initiatives, ensuring none of our generated waste goes to landfills, and all our facilities operate on renewable energy sources.”

Kristin Baker, VP Industrial & Process Automation UK & Ireland at Schneider Electric said: “This Autumn Statement provides a good deal of welcome news for our sector, which, above all else, has been consistently calling for a stable investment environment for some time. By making full expensing a permanent measure, UK manufacturers now have the certainty they need to invest in mid-to-long-term measures that will enable them to capitalise on digital transformation initiatives that will help them to become more productive, profitable, sustainable, innovative, and internationally competitive. Permanent full-expensing may well prove to be the most important government announcement relating to manufacturing in a generation.

“This headline measure will do much to improve the outlook of UK industry and is further supported by measures to increase the number of engineering apprentices and highly targeted investment in advanced manufacturing, green energy, and green industries. Each of these measures will be welcomed by UK industry and could help the UK to fulfil its potential as a world leader for the technologies, skills and applications of the new energy landscape while promoting the digitally driven decarbonisation that is vital to making the world more sustainable.”

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