Innovation, skills, tax incentives, investment and support for SMEs are the key issues facing the manufacturing sector as we get nearer to the General Election. That is, according to the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) that recently published a Manufacturing Manifesto aimed at keeping the challenges facing the sector on the radar of the major political parties.
The APMG, which is made up of politicians as well as representatives from manufacturing industry organisations, says that long-term government policies devised in collaboration with industry is the “single best way to instil confidence and stability in the UK manufacturing sector”.
Here’s a précis of the things they are calling for.
Small and Medium Enterprises make up the majority of manufacturing businesses in the UK, so the APMG would like to see support given to these companies. It is calling for a more diversified funding environment, through a mix of business angels, venture capitalists, private equity, bank finance, and crowdfunding; as well as “a permanent and robust advisory service dedicated to supporting SMEs”. It would also like to see information for SMES disseminated through trade associations, local enterprise partnerships, universities and chambers of commerce.
Trade and Investment
Measures being demanded include support to businesses looking to locate or re-locate production in the UK; an expansion of the capacity of UK supply chains; and a commitment to encourage international business links and foreign direct investment to aid the export of manufactured goods.
The APMG would like to see all parties committing to protect funding for bodies such as Innovate UK and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. In addition, there is a call for strong protection Intellectual Property rights and a permanent system of R&D tax credits to be established.
When it comes to skills, the APMG wants to see engineering and STEM-related apprenticeships made a priority and has called for stronger links between education bodies and industry. All parties are being urged to address the negative perception of manufacturing and to take steps aimed at increasing the number of women coming into manufacturing and engineering.
Finance and taxation
There are calls also for a competitive tax regime as well as steps to streamline the process of applying for government support schemes. Strategies to support high employment manufacturing industries, such as textiles and food and drink, are requested.
Overall, the manifesto represents a comprehensive list of the main issues facing our sector and a useful rundown of action points needed to support the resurgence in UK manufacturing we have witnessed in recent years. It remains to be seen how far this is adopted by politicians as we enter this important year.