Parliamentary summit to fire-up UK ceramics sector

Posted on 28 Jan 2016 by Jonny Williamson

A summit of MPs and Peers will take place in Parliament today with the aim of boosting the UK ceramics industry and securing more than 20,000 jobs in the sector.

Laura Cohen, CEO, British Ceramics Federation
Laura Cohen, CEO, British Ceramics Confederation (BCC).

Today’s meeting – which will be hosted and chaired by Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove MP Ruth Smeeth – was called for by the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC), the trade association for UK ceramic manufacturers.

The BCC is urging MPs to intervene on five key points which could unleash growth in the industry and secure jobs which would otherwise be under threat.

Chief executive of the BCC, Dr Laura Cohen explained: The UK ceramic industry has huge potential to contribute to economic growth, but fortunately it is being held back.

“Within our EARTH Campaign, we’re calling on the Government to make five simple changes which will allow the industry to thrive.”

The BCC’s EARTH Campaign:

  • E – EU Emissions Trading Scheme: the Government needs to ensure all ceramic sub-sectors receive mitigation measures in full to guard against leakage of carbon, investment and jobs to competitors outside the EU.
  • A – Action: to lighten the cumulative costs of UK/EU energy, climate and environmental policies which harm the sector’s ability to remain internationally competitive.
  • R – Reduce industrial CO2 emissions: by developing a long-term partnership with direct funding assistance for the sector on development and implementation of breakthrough technologies.
  • T – Trade freely, but fairly: by rejecting unilateral EU recognition of China as a Market Economy, which would leave manufacturers inadequately defended against the rising tide of dumped imports.
  • H – Housing: achieve higher growth for the UK economy from government construction investment, by enabling investment in the supply chain here rather than overseas

BCC president and managing director of Johnsons Tiles, Stephen Dixon commented: “Much media attention has been on how steel is struggling with high energy and emission costs and dumped imports from China.

“This is understandable given the number of job losses seen in recent months, but the Government must take on board that other energy intensive industries, like ceramics, are facing similar issues.

“UK ceramics has some internationally renowned brands, incredible skills and world-beating energy-efficient plants. If the changes we are calling for were brought about, the industry would be able to thrive.

“Crucially, 20,000 people are employed in the industry around the country – it would be terrible for the UK if those jobs were not secured.”

Ruth Smeeth, MP for Stoke North and Kidsgrove, and Chair said: “The importance of the ceramics industry in my constituency is well known, with “the Potteries” a byword for Stoke-on-Trent itself.

“The livelihood of several thousand of my constituents remains dependent on the industry. I’m hosting this meeting in Parliament because all MPs, and particularly the Government, need to realise that there are ceramic jobs in every region of Britain making a huge economic contribution to the UK. With a few changes to policy, that contribution could be even bigger.”