“Narrow-minded, blame-driven politics” should be set aside in favour of an economic vision that prioritises growth and digital competency in a post-Brexit world, according to a newly published manifesto from Make UK.
As Britain hurtles towards a General Election on 12 December, political parties should ditch the dogmatic mudslinging of late and move towards solid policy suggestions that will ensure frictionless trade and mutually beneficial regulation on both sides of the English Channel, according to Make UK.
The industry body has published a ‘mini’ policy document entitled, Backing Manufacturers, The Makers Manifesto, in which it spells out key concerns for industry that it deems essential for creating business value once we leave the European Union.
Additional to a framework that supports the creation of skilled jobs and a curriculum for the workforce of the future, Make UK is urging the next government to positively remove ‘no deal’ from the equation, therefore safeguarding any future prospects for manufacturing.
Failure to strike an agreement under these terms would be “catastrophic” for business, according to Make UK’s chief executive, Stephen Phipson.
“The last few years have been largely wasted. Beyond the immediacy of a sensible agreement with the EU, we need to move on quickly and ensure government works with industry to deliver a better balanced economy and sustained growth. Manufacturing will be central to delivering this as well as addressing the major societal and technological challenges we face,” he said.
“Some important groundwork has been laid through the Industrial Strategy. It is now vital the next government, however it is made up, commits to immediate policies that will ensure the UK remains an attractive place to do business, encourage growth, boost private sector investment and job creation,” he added.
Frictionless trade, access to labour and regulatory alignment are among the “immediate overriding” priorities Make UK lists in its mini manifesto.
Fourth on that list is a lengthy transition period that allows business sufficient time to adapt to change, arguing that it is “highly unrealistic to assume a trade deal could be negotiated and ratified by December 2020”.
The long-term aim for government should be to improve overall productivity relative to our global rivals and secure real wage growth for workers, while phasing in step change investment behaviour in the private sector, said Make UK.
It also wants to see a “marked improvement” in the UK’s trade performance as part of that long-term strategy.
“What the public and business want to see is not the narrow-minded, blame-driven politics we have witnessed in the last few years, but a grown-up vision of where we are going as a country and as an economy,” Phipson said.
“They want to see pledges that will support the creation of the skilled jobs we need, equip their children with the education and skills for the future and anchor value creating businesses in the UK. In short, they want to hear what the big picture is for very critical issues in a world that is facing rapid technological and social change,” he added.
Make UK priorities for a new government growth agenda:
- Fix the failing Apprenticeship Levy to boost the supply of domestic skills
- Increase support for exports to drive economic growth
- Ensure sustainable funding for STEM subjects
- Cut the cost of energy for energy-intensive industries
- Simplify the visa processing system to boost SMEs
- Create credible vocational routes for young people
- Stop cyber-crime costing business
- Re-think immigration policy to ensure manufacturers have access to skills
- Implement the Made Smarter Review
- Reboot the Better Regulation Target
- Reform business rates to encourage investment
- Invest in infrastructure
- Reform regulations to reflect modern working practices
- Deliver economic devolution
- Foster future innovation
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By Rory Butler, Staff Journalist