New report recommends that giving powers to regions will help to tackle regional economic challenges and support the wider recovery
42% of manufacturers are dissatisfied with Government’s current levelling up agenda
Metro Mayors, LEPs and Local Authorities should work more closely with manufacturers as they develop new regional industrial strategies and push for real change in key issues in their regions
Four in ten manufacturers want greater emphasis on local infrastructure projects over national ones to boost regional productivity
42% of manufacturers want to see improvements to local road, rail and bus services through refreshed regional industrial strategies
But there is a national consensus on infrastructure - digital connectivity is the number one priority for 41% of manufacturers
British manufacturing is one of the most agile sectors in the UK, accounting for £191 billion of output, 53% of Britain’s total exports and paying on average 13% more than the national norm. UK manufacturers sit at the heart of every region, already employing 2.7 million people, and are perfectly placed to reenergise and revive “left behind” local communities across the whole of the country.
Investment to support the growth of the UK manufacturing sector is an effective way to kick-start the revival of our regional economies, according to new research ‘Reviving and Rebalancing Regional Economies through Manufacturing’, published today by Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation and RSM, leading tax, audit and consultancy firm. Putting the manufacturing sector back at the heart of local communities is key to a truly effective levelling up agenda through a reenergised national Industrial Strategy and harnessing the power of regional stakeholders.
The COVID crisis showcased manufacturers as natural problem solvers, with many switching production overnight to produce vital medicines and PPE for the NHS. Nine out of ten manufacturers stayed open throughout the crisis, designing effective social distancing plans well before the masses and secured the production of vital food, drink, power and other necessities. This resilience, adaptability and innovation showcased the power of manufacturing which can be harnessed to help with economic regional turnaround.
From Newcastle to Newquay, Chester to Chiswick or Brighton to Birmingham, every region, city and town has its own unique advantages. Capitalising on those differences to prosper will be important to effectively level up.
But it is not a one size fits all solution. Capturing the manufacturing power of the individual regions requires a bespoke approach through the development of regional industrial strategies. Our research found that businesses in the North wanted to see Government prioritise the improvements to local road and rail transport connections in order to boost business growth. The Midlands and East of England want to see an emphasis on local projects over national projects. And the South requires improved digital connectivity and a focus on sustainability to build a digital and green future.
As working behaviours and business models have changed significantly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, levelling up must look beyond the traditional focus of physical infrastructure projects clustered around major cities alone. For manufacturers, this means seeing real, tangible change in their regions. This requires quick, targeted action from Government, manufacturers and stakeholders.
Industry is calling on Government to back manufacturing and to collectively revive and rebalancing our regional economies.