CBI Urges Government To Help Revitalise UK Manufacturing

The CBI has called on government and business to work together to revitalise UK manufacturing.
Speaking to manufacturing firms at the University of Warwick CBI director Carolyn Fairbairn said it was vital to “champion and grow” the country’s manufacturing sector because it matters for prosperity and makes the economy more “balanced, diversified and innovative”.
She urged the Government to give its full backing to a modern Industrial Strategy including business working in partnership with it to embrace long term opportunities and trends, particularly in digital. There is also a need, she added, to focus on developing the right skills in the sector, managing energy costs, and encouraging more R&D investment.
“Every manufacturing sector should have a plan for its future and many already do - we would suggest that each plan addresses these three questions. First, is the sector strategic for the UK? Second, is the sector currently globally competitive, and if not why not? Does the UK have a competitive advantage? Third, what actions could government and business take to make it more competitive? “ she said. “Solutions may be about enhancing competition to encourage new disruptors to enter, further actions on skills, getting the right infrastructure in place, targeted R&D or support with digital transformation. Of course, because government funding is scarce, all proposals need ruthless prioritisation based on their impact on UK prosperity. That’s the world we live in. And the solutions at the end of the day may well be cross-industry. But the building blocks are sector strategies - modern industrial strategies.”
She said work of this kind was already bearing fruit in the UK’s booming automotive sector.
“Steel gives a sharp example of where we didn’t think long term. Where the answers didn’t come until it was too late,” she said. “Yet the automotive industry provides the evidence that a clear, collaborative approach works. The industry came together, identified barriers holding back its productivity and put its top three proposals to Government. Government acted and deserves great credit for doing so. The results have been astounding.”
James Walton, director of Manufacturing, Mid Markets, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, added: “The manufacturing sector is constantly evolving due to digital change which is why it is important that we focus on the drivers, barriers and opportunities of embracing innovation. Businesses that invest in processes and technology will benefit from improved productivity and a competitive edge.”