A new report has warned the Government to act now over growing risks to the UK’s supply of essential materials.
While other nations have strategies in place to protect their resources from risk, the UK is trailing behind.
The EEF report, titled Manufacturing: Safeguarding Supply, digs behind concerns raised by UK manufacturers that unstable material prices and security of supply pose a threat to economic growth, and confirms that the UK does indeed face mounting risks.
The consuming middle classes are forecasted to soar from 30% to 80% by 2030. Moreover, the UK is too reliant on China, the leading supplier of materials to the UK, to provide 22 out of 38 elements of strategic economic value to the UK, such as minerals and metals, which are vital to the UK’s manufacturing.
The report highlights that the past decade has reversed a 100-year decline in resource prices as demand for commodities has surged. EEF’s senior policy advisor, Susanne Baker, criticised the Government for not following the example of competitor nations by taking evasive action, saying: “Our Government is in danger of burying its head in the sand.”
The EEF is now urging the Government to move to mitigate material risks by:
- establishing an Office of Resource Management to coordinate action across Whitehall;
- regularly assessing material supply risks and vulnerabilities;
- providing stronger incentives for resource efficiency to help overcome market failures; and
- regulating risk to extract more economic value from what is discarded.
Baker went on to say: “As we approach the end of an economic era we cannot afford to be left underprepared and over exposed. Manufacturers have sounded the alarm over the growing risks to material supply and others are now picking up the clarion call.
“Resource security is dynamic and complex. It requires a flexible response working in close cooperation with industry and other stakeholders. But key to this must be a joined-up, though-through approach across relevant policy areas. Given how crucial material supplies are to the UK’s wealth and economic stability, there is clear case for a new Office of Resource Management to act as central hub of expertise, data and stakeholder liaison and to coordinate the UK’s response to these risks.”