Belfast Telegraph

Manufacturers urge 'flesh on bones' of industrial strategy to aid growth plans

Manufacturers are urging the Government to speed up its plans for industry, otherwise firms' growth plans could "fall by the wayside".

The EEF said swift implementation of an industrial strategy was vital as companies cope with Brexit uncertainty.

Research among 135 business leaders showed that three out of four are actively planning to grow and almost as many are focused on driving up productivity.

The EEF said policies must help deliver a more skilled workforce, improved infrastructure and a lower cost of doing business.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF, said: "We need to get this right and we need to get this in place now so that manufacturers' growth ambitions are supported across the pre- and post-Brexit divide.

"It is not enough to talk about an industrial strategy - it is time for the Government to draw a line under the stop-go efforts of the past and to demonstrate its commitment to industry by putting some much-needed flesh on the bones.

"Manufacturers are not just talking about future growth, they have firm plans in place to make it happen.

"Their ambition and drive will help get the sector and our economy on the road to stronger, better-balanced growth, but this must be matched by Government.

"We must strive for better productivity, increased trade and more ambitious investment in new technologies.

"Government can underpin this by supporting higher skills, investing in infrastructure, lowering the cost of doing business and providing world class support for growing businesses."

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said: "As the EEF report makes clear, manufacturing makes a far wider contribution to the economy than the 10% share of the UK's GDP suggests.

"That's why we're focused on developing an industrial strategy that will boost productivity, create good jobs and ensure sustainable economic growth."

Chi Onwurah, shadow minister for industrial strategy, said: "This report shows British business is ready to step up to the challenges of post-Brexit manufacturing - if only Government could support them.

"Instead, the Conservatives have no industrial strategy.

"The Tories failed to prevent the steel crisis, they have overseen the decline of regions outside of London and starved innovation across the country. It is the Tories who are stopping businesses succeeding."

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: "With key investment decisions looming in the automotive and other manufacturing sectors, the Government needs to provide business with the stability that tariff-free access to the single market brings.

"Ministers also need to commit to an infrastructure programme and use public procurement to support British manufacturers with a policy of if it's bought for Britain, it's made by Britain."