Commenting on the statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK, said:
“This was a realistic statement which lays bare the immense challenges the Chancellor and the economy faces in the near term. In the face of these it is absolutely right that the priority must be to protect jobs, whilst trying to create opportunities for young people whose futures have been left badly scarred. Equally, it is vital to put in place the foundations now for how we rebuild our economy.
“Industry will commend the Chancellor for addressing this difficult balancing act with a package of measures designed to get boots and shovels on the ground, especially the National Infrastructure Bank and Levelling up Fund to boost growth in those Regions which have been hardest hit.
“There remains a case, however, to also put in place consistent, longer-term sector specific support that mirrors our international competitors. Key strategic sectors, in particular aerospace and automotive, employ substantial numbers of high value, well paid jobs in areas of the country that are essential to the levelling up and re-balancing of our economy. They are advanced technology companies whose skills will be vital in developing the green and digital futures which will help solve many of the societal challenges we face. To ensure they are at the vanguard of this new economy, it’s vital their futures are secured with short term support now.”
Commenting on the extension of the incentive to recruit Apprenticeships, Verity Davidge, Director of Central Policy at Make UK, said:
“Apprentices have always been the lifeblood of many manufacturing businesses. However, this year, on the back of reduced demand and cutting of employee numbers, manufacturers have had to make tough choices which has resulted in a decline in the number of companies recruiting apprentices in the next year.
“There is an urgent need to get these numbers back on track, or risk a major skills crisis in the coming years. Increasing the incentive scheme will help small businesses get their apprenticeship programmes back off the ground. But there is more that can be done. Giving employers these payments up front is a good starting point but giving employers greater flexibility on spending their Apprenticeship Levy would be the ultimate goal.”
Commenting on the announcements on infrastructure, Fhaheen Khan, Senior Economist at Make UK, said:
“Infrastructure has long been the Achilles Heel of the UK economy causing a wide range of economic impacts from poor connections to ports and lack of broadband. The need to invest in both physical and digital infrastructure is not just about a short term boost to increase shovel ready projects to provide employment and growth, it will be one of the pieces in the jigsaw of the UK’s productivity puzzle. Using the National Infrastructure Bank and Strategy, as well as changes to the Green Book, can also unlock the power of UK manufacturing and productivity, as well as crucially support the rebalancing of our regions.”
Commenting on the continuation of Kickstart, Verity Davidge, Director of Policy at Make UK, said:
“The Kickstart Scheme is a welcome and worthy initiative targeted at those who will be left most vulnerable as the pandemic continues to keep a firm grip on economic growth and job prospects. Young people have been the hardest hit and manufacturers want to engage with these schemes. A continuation of the scheme is a positive step forward.
“But, with many companies simply engaged in staying afloat there are significant challenges to overcome to ensure Schemes such as these work. Social distancing measures, financial resource and a lack of people to support these initiatives are all barriers companies are contending with. Government must work with industry to address them and lead a campaign on the benefits on continuing these invaluable schemes to ensure manufacturing avoids an almighty skills crisis in the next few years.”
Commenting on the boost to R&D funding, Verity Davidge, Director of Policy at Make UK, said:
“The boost to R&D funding is critically important for manufacturers who invest a greater proportion than other sectors of the economy. If we are to become a global leader in the adoption of digital technologies and, put science and research at the heart of our economy, then financial backing from Government will be vital, especially if the UK is to lose EU funding.”