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The UK manufacturing sector is an essential contributor to the country’s economy generating £206bn gross valued added in 2022 a fifth higher than a decade ago. It accounts for around half our exports, two thirds of spending on research and development and accounts for a significant level of business investment. The sector employs around 2.6m highly skilled people across the UK, many of them in areas that need levelling up. In short manufacturing matters to the prosperity and security of the UK.

The sector is now at a critical juncture. Ten years ago Make UK (then EEF) set out its case for an industrial strategy. Since then we have had six plans for growth but now find ourselves without one.
There is broad agreement among stakeholders about what the UK needs for a successful industrial strategy. These can be broadly categorised into five themes, skills; infrastructure; finance; innovation and the business environment. To these can now be added significant shifts in the policy landscape from the post Brexit and pandemic landscape, the transition to net zero, rapidly accelerating technologies spinning out from the fourth industrial revolution and the political imperative to spread growth more evenly across the UK.

Internationally the UK risks being squeezed between the US Inflation Reduction Act which is already having a significant impact on drawing in green investment. Similar measures are also being proposed by the EU. In the face of these the UK is the only developed nation without an industrial strategy. Yet, never has the case been clearer to adopt one.

We now have the opportunity to harness the undoubted strengths the UK possess in its academic and research base working with manufacturing companies who are highly innovative. They are clear that an industrial strategy would bring the benefits of a long term vision and a stable environment in which they can plan, invest and grow.

Read our report that sets out the case for a robust modern industrial strategy.

Available resources

Industry report / Make UK