Less talk, more action, West manufacturers tell Govt

May 17, 2012

Only one in four manufacturers in the South West believes the Government has adopted the right strategies to support and develop the sector, according to research by accountants and business advisors BDO.

While 93% of manufacturers value the Government’s message that manufacturing is essential to the UK economy, they do not see policy pledges translating to concrete change.   

The findings are drawn from BDO’s Manufacturing the Future, one of the largest-ever surveys of the UK engineering and manufacturing industries.

Among ideas backed by firms in the survey are the creation of an ‘industrial bank’, a new focus on skills and a more supportive tax system. There is also a call for increased patriotism with UK companies favoured when large public contracts are awarded, and more focus on exports to emerging economies including China and India to reduce dependence on the eurozone.

More than two thirds of the region’s manufacturers predict overall improvement in the economic outlook in 10 years’ time, but a third are not confident that manufacturing will be a core sector of the UK economy at this time.

Nearly a quarter anticipate a reduction in the sector’s share of GDP, suggesting the sector is conspicuous by its absence in supporting long-term growth, despite Government messages to the contrary.

John Talbot, of BDO’s Bristol office, said: “If there’s one overriding message we’re hearing from manufacturers, it’s that words are not enough. Our research suggests that policy pledges amount to empty rhetoric, not concrete change. Optimism for longer-term economic growth is encouraging, but it’s worrying that the region’s manufacturers don’t envisage they’ll have a significant role in achieving it – especially given the Government’s insistence on the sector’s importance to the rebalancing of the economy.

“We need longer term strategies that go beyond the term of a single parliament in order to rebalance the economy towards manufacturing. The sector operates on a global stage with countries such as Germany, Japan and China which have all built sustainable, long term manufacturing sectors at the centre of their economies, underpinned by firm and committed government support. We need to do the same, or we risk losing our manufacturing base altogether.”  



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