We’ve heard a lot in recent months about how politicians want to rebalance the economy away from financial services and towards high-tech manufacturing. Are there signs that this repositioning is being achieved? Or is such an ambition mainly empty rhetoric?
To find out, the IMechE commissioned a survey of 1,000 manufacturers as part of its ongoing Engineered in Britain campaign to gauge opinion on the government’s manufacturing policies – and we’ve published some of the results here. There are no write-in replies, as there are with our normal PE surveys, so we have published the bald statistics on their own. But the figures are quite telling in their own right. Question two shows that only 19% think that the government is helping UK manufacturers. That’s a pretty damning statistic. And you can see the reasons for this in the next question: 80% of the 1,000 manufacturers feel that the government is more committed to the financial sector than it is to manufacturing. The underlying sentiment seems to be that rebalancing of the economy comes as easy words, but it is not so easily achieved.
Philippa Oldham, head of manufacturing at the IMechE, said: “The warm words about UK manufacturing we have been hearing over the past two years are starting to wear thin. It’s time for the government to engage with industry now to create a long-term industrial strategy that can put UK manufacturing, once the envy of the world, back on top.”
1. The government is committed to creating a more balanced economy by growing UK manufacturing
Agree: 31% Disagree: 42% Neither: 24% Don't know: 3%
2. The government’s policies are helping UK manufacturers
Agree: 19% Disagree: 41% Neither: 36% Don't know: 4%
3. The government is more committed to the financial sector than it is to manufacturing
Agree: 80% Disagree: 9% Neither: 10% Don't know: 1%
4. Would you rather the government favoured British-based companies when awarding contracts even if this was a more expensive option?
Yes: 77.5% No: 19% Don't know: 3.5%
5. Manufacturing currently accounts for 12% of the UK economy. Over the next 20 years do you think it is likely manufacturing will...?
Stay about the same: 30% Increase as a proportion of UK economy: 37%
Decrease as a proportion of UK economy: 32% Don't know: 1%
6. What financial incentives and support from government would you prefer?
TSB Smart Awards: 9% Changes to taxation system: 43%
Bank for industry: 20% None or don't know: 29%
7. Is your company currently recruiting?
Yes: 76% No: 21% Don't know: 3%
8. As a manufacturer, are you aware of these funding and advice options open to your company?
UK Trade and Investment: 41%
IMechE Manufacturing Excellence Programme: 44%
Technology Strategy Board: 29%
Manufacturing Advisory Service: 29%
Regional Growth Fund: 36%
None: 23% Don't know: 10%
9. Are you finding prospective employees with the right skills?
Yes: 47% No: 47% Don't know: 6%