The manufacturers’ organisation EEF said the main political parties needed to demonstrate they had a real vision and ambition for the UK economy and the policies to back it up.
“What the public and business want to see is not the narrow-minded, blame-driven politics we are currently witnessing but a vision of where we are going as a country and an economy,” said EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler.
Must pledge to skills
Speaking in the week that the Labour and the Conservative manifestos were revealed, he said they must pledge to equip children with the education and skills they will need for the future and anchor value-creating businesses in the UK.
“In short they want to hear what the big picture is for very critical issues,” he added.
“If the last five years have been about survival and rebuilding, the next five must be about delivering a better balanced economy and sustained growth.
“UK manufacturing is in good shape to help deliver this. Some important groundwork has been laid and it is vital the next government, however it is made up, commits to immediate policies which will build on and encourage growth, boost private sector investment and job creation.”
The EEF launched its own manifesto for a new government. It set out the core foundations for boosting investment, supporting growing businesses, improving skills, making it easier to do business and securing Britain’s membership of the EU.
According to EEF, the longer term aim should be to restore the public finances, improve productivity and secure real wage growth. In particular, the next government should set an ambition for measurable improvements in productivity relative to international competitors, a step change in investment behaviour in the private sector and a marked improvement in the UK’s trade performance.
EEF represents 20,000 companies of all sizes, from start-ups to multinationals, across engineering, manufacturing, technology and the wider industrial sector. It directly represents over 5,000 businesses, which are its members.
Meanwhile, look out for our articles on what the Labour and Conservative manifestos could mean for the food and drink industry later today.
EEF's top 10 priorities
1. Announce a roadmap for company tax reform, especially reform of the tax allowances that support companies investing for the future.
2. Upgrade the transport networks on which business relies, especially by fixing the £12bn road maintenance backlog, as part of a new long-term national infrastructure plan. This should include the announcement of a National Infrastructure Authority.
3. Ringfence the science and innovation budgets in the same way schools are protected.
4. Focus UK Trade and Investment’s work on providing help for smaller companies to access global markets with advice, local market expertise and business-focused embassies abroad.
5. Support a successful Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US.
6. Implement the commitment to give employers real buying power for training, through digital training vouchers.
7. Restore an effective careers service with real employer engagement all the way up the schools system from primary to sixth form.
8. Commit to reforming the over-complicated and uncompetitive system of carbon taxes and levies.
9. Double this government’s cut in the costs of regulatory compliance in the UK, and press for Brussels to introduce compliance cost assessments for EU directives on the UK model.
10. Commit to making the case for Britain’s continued membership of a reformed Europe.