With a general election fast approaching, a coalition of the UK associations representing the manufacturing sector are calling on all political parties to unite around a long-term vision for UK manufacturing.
The group known collectively as ‘M5’ has developed a manifesto for growth, which outlines actions needed to drive the competitiveness and innovation within manufacturing.
Vital for the UK economy, the M5 sectors span life sciences, chemicals, food and drink, automotive, aerospace, defence, security and space; and employ nearly 1m people. These sectors are also responsible for more than £2 out of every £5 invested in research and development (R&D) by UK businesses.
Despite this, the sector has faced a multitude of challenges and the M5 believe that any future government must have a central role in the creation of an environment that allows the industry to thrive.
The report emphasises the importance for a coherent, long-term strategy to ensure continued success and close the gap with global competitors, setting out five key areas.
- Building the workforce of tomorrow
- Implementing regulation for growth
- Prioritising innovation as an essential element for manufacturing growth
- Capitalising on the UK's global presence to promote its manufacturing industries
- Delivering a sustainable future
Part of the M5, the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) chief executive, Karen Betts, said: “Creating a long-term strategy to drive economic growth and attract investment in advanced manufacturing is critical to the health of the UK economy, which needs manufacturing to thrive.
“Driving growth and increasing investment to strengthen the UK’s food security is a priority for food and drink manufacturers, alongside accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, improvements in resource efficiency and turbocharging our exports.
“However, our industry has faced some challenging headwinds in recent years, causing costs to rise rapidly. The government must deliver an internationally competitive business environment to drive investment, boost productivity and support a secure and sustainable food system.”
Steve Elliott, chief executive of the Chemical Industries Association (CIA), added: “Businesses who make chemical products and solutions are integral to all manufactured goods. Whether it is ingredients for food and medicines; paints and coatings for cars and planes or materials for mobile phones and electric vehicle batteries, the chemical industry is truly the 'industry of industries'. Our ability to supply the solutions of the future will be dependent on urgent action to deliver a more competitive investment climate for our country."
Alongside the FDF and CIA, the M5 comprises representatives from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the ADS Group, and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.