Parties urged to set out economic vision with focus on growth and a skilled digital economy.
Britain’s manufacturers are urging the leaders of the main political parties to move on from blame-driven politics and demonstrate to the electorate they have real vision and ambition for the UK economy in the next parliament and, the policies to back it up in a post Brexit world.
The call, made by Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation in ‘Backing Manufacturers, The Makers Manifesto’, comes ahead of an election in which Brexit will be the number one concern for manufacturers.
As such, Make UK believes the overriding immediate priority for the next Government must be to come to an agreement with the EU which is the basis for a future trading relationship which delivers the four key tests of:
· Frictionless trade
· Regulatory alignment
· Access to labour, and
· A lengthy transition period that allow business time to adapt to change
According to Make UK it is highly unrealistic to assume a trade deal could be negotiated and ratified by December 2020.
Commenting, Make UK Chief Executive, Stephen Phipson, said: “The first and foremost priority for the next Government must be an agreement with the EU that also passes through Parliament as soon as possible, which removes ‘no deal’ and ensures four key outcomes to safeguard the future prospects for manufacturers. This is absolutely essential to avoid leaving without an agreement which would be catastrophic for industry.
“Beyond that, 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, an economy.
“They want 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.
“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 and addressing the major societal and technological challenges we face.
“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 which will ensure the UK remains an attractive place to do business, encourage growth, boost private sector investment and job creation.”
As well as tackling the priority of a future trading relationship with the EU, Make UK has published a top fifteen priority list for the first year of an incoming government. The list sets out the core foundations for boosting investment, supporting growing businesses, improving skills and ensuring the UK remains an attractive place to do business
According to Make UK, the longer term aim should be to improve productivity and secure real wage growth. In particular, the next government should set an ambition for measurable improvements in productivity relative to our international competitors, a step change in investment behaviour in the private sector and a marked improvement in the UK’s trade performance.
Make UK priorities for a new Government growth agenda:
1. Fix the failing Apprenticeship Levy to boost the supply of domestic skills
2. Increase support for exports to drive economic growth
3. Ensure sustainable funding for STEM subjects
4. Cut the cost of energy for Energy Intensive Industries
5. Simplify the visa processing system to boost SMEs
6. Create credible vocational routes for young people
7. Stop cybercrime costing business
8. Re-think immigration to policy to ensure manufacturers have access to skills
9. Implement the Made Smarter Review
10. Reboot the Better Regulation Target
11. Reform Business Rates to encourage investment
12. Invest in infrastructure
13. Reform regulations to reflect modern working practices
14. Deliver economic devolution
15. Foster future innovation