Calls for innovation to be at heart of industrial strategy

Two of the UK’s leading business groups are calling for bold government policies to improve productivity, skills and innovation as the nation prepares for a post-Brexit world.

In submissions to ministers on the final day of the consultation period on the government’s green paper on industrial strategy, both the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the manufacturers’ organisation EEF said action was needed if the UK were to remain globally competitive.The CBI said the government should aim to reduce the productivity gap between the worst- and best-performing regions by 15 per cent by 2030. It also wanted new targets to be set to measure income levels, employment rates, income distribution and how economic activity is dispersed across the country.

New industrial strategy

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said, “The UK is at the foothills of extraordinary change as we look to redefine our role in the world and adapt to rapid technological advances in the workplace. A new industrial strategy must aim to make the UK economy the most competitive in the world by 2030.“We must build on our leading knowledge base, drive a renaissance in our traditional heartlands of manufacturing and create a new wave of entrepreneurship by making the UK the easiest place to start and grow a business. By doing this, we can raise productivity and improve lives in every community up and down the country.“This vision should not be created solely by business, nor by government. It must be created and owned by business, government and society together. To make this happen, it must be underpinned by a partnership between business and government that is the best in the world, based on trust and shared interest.“This will be a significant driver of competitive advantage for the UK, ensuring that planning and execution is coordinated at every stage and that every investment moves our country and prosperity forward in a way that is fair and sustainable.”The CBI has set out six main areas for action by the government to deliver a modern industrial strategy, including structural changes to improve skills; infrastructure, energy and the tax environment; putting innovation at the heart of the strategy; and improved support and performance monitoring.
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Improving economic performance

For the EEF, chief executive Terry Scuoler said, “Successive governments have identified the UK’s weak productivity performance and resolved to tackle it, arguably with little success.“This time it can be different, however, and we have a real opportunity to make a step change in the UK’s economic performance. The green paper is a positive first step in what will be an evolutionary process.“A successful strategy must, however, be more than a list of policy action points. It has to be a framework for ensuring that all policy decisions take the UK economy closer to its goal of higher productivity, increased exports and greater investment in innovation.”Business Secretary Greg Clark said, “Our modern industrial strategy represents an ambitious long-term vision for the UK that will build on our strengths as a country and deliver a high-skilled economy for the years ahead.“The green paper was the beginning of an open dialogue to develop the industrial strategy. We welcome all contributions to the consultation and will consider the findings of each response carefully.“The government can help businesses of all sizes and sectors by improving skills policy, delivering infrastructure projects (small-scale and large-scale), establishing an affordable plan for emissions reductions and maintaining a stable tax framework.”For related news and features, visit our Enterprise section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit

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