Commenting on today’s Budget Statement, Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK, the manufacturer’s organisation, said:
“This was a welcome, realistic and pragmatic statement which recognises the unparalleled times in which we are living. Business understands that dealing with the impact of the coronavirus on individuals and the economy was always going to be the Chancellor’s priority and he has our full support in doing whatever is necessary to protect the public and the economy at such a difficult time.
“Aside from the overwhelming immediate priority the Chancellor has also recognised the need to turbocharge investment in long term measures which will boost the productive potential of the economy and support green growth. For too long the UK’s infrastructure outside the South East has played second fiddle and industry will welcome the resources devoted to improving links across the UK, in particular the strategic road network.
“In a world which is rapidly becoming digital the UK needs to stay at the forefront of research and innovation. Today’s measures to boost R&D will be applauded by industry and will help the UK lead in the technologies of the future.”
On specific measures to help companies with the coronavirus Stephen Phipson said:
“Today’s measures will help shore up confidence in the short term and industry will be reassured that the Government will do whatever it takes to keep the economy moving. If the situation worsens however, we need to think the unthinkable and look at ways in which employers, government and Trade Unions could co-operate on measures such as short term working patterns to keep key skills and grants or other financial support for firms who lose orders. Industry stands ready to work with Government and the Trade Unions to this end.”
On support for innovation and green growth, Tim Figures, Director of Technology, Sustainability & Innovation at Make UK said:
“Industry will be pleased to see the Government’s support for innovation and green growth although we’ll only know full details later in the year. It’s vital that the Government delivers increased support for SME-focussed schemes, such as Made Smarter, to ensure that companies of all sizes and in all locations can benefit from its levelling up agenda.”
On measures to boost Further Education, Tim Thomas, Director of Employment & Skills Policy at Make UK, said:
“Extra capital funding for the entire FE college estate is both welcome and needed. With T-levels around the corner for manufacturers, funding for new capital equipment which is often a roadblock to greater technical training cannot come too soon. The announcement of more funding for maths teachers for 16-19 year olds will generate a better equipped workforce with the STEM skills to address the skills shortage that manufacturers face.”
On the health surcharge Tim Thomas, said:
“If the UK is to attract mobile international workers, under its future points based system it needs to be globally competitive. With visa fees, settlement fees and skills charges to pay, the hike in the health surcharge, paid annually and per head, sends the wrong message that the UK is open to the workers it needs wherever they may come from.”
On the living wage Tim Thomas said:
“Whilst manufactures strive to attract the best talent with wages to match a single national living wage will increasingly have a regional impact, particularly in the North and Wales, and may lead to pay pressures for skilled and semi-skilled workers. Increases in the National Living Wage must always be subject to the ability of all businesses in all sectors to pay, particularly at a time when other pay-roll costs such as pensions and the apprenticeship levy are themselves dependent on wage levels.