CBI Industrial Strategy

 

WEEKLY COMMENT 27-07-2017

By Barry Edwards

CBI Industrial Strategy

 

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has published this week their response to the government’s Industrial Strategy green paper published on 23rd of January 2017. The CBI paper is a very thorough analysis and is a very comprehensive response with recommendations that enhance the discussion and the contribution from their members was impressive.

Since the publication of the green paper, the CBI has consulted with over 500 members, large and small, from different sectors up and down the country. The response was overwhelming – CBI members are extremely supportive of a modern industrial strategy. They agree with the high level goals, and believe the Government has identified the right issues and asked the right questions. The 10 pillars outlined in the green paper were broadly welcomed as the starting point for a transformative industrial strategy. If you click on the link below you can read the CBI response, it is 30 pages long and well worth reading. There is a summary of all the recommendations on page 29;

http://www.cbi.org.uk/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=DF8D9234-6EF2-4439-940251235464502F

The CBI has come forward with 6 main recommendations;

  1. Build a clear UK2030 vision: a uniting long-term sense of purpose. The industrial strategy needs a clear vision supported by tangible key performance indicators and a brand that galvanises all parts of the economy.
  2. Fix the foundations: skills, infrastructure, energy, a pro-enterprise tax environment. 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.
  3. Put innovation at the heart of the strategy. Our competitive advantage depends on our ability to invest in R&D and develop and commercialise new ideas as well as our ability to adopt technology and better ways of working to become more productive at a firm level.
  4. Empower devolved nations, London and regions and hold them accountable. The industrial strategy must increase living standards for everyone living in the UK and enabling all regions to develop and champion their own economic strengths is the best way to deliver it.
  5. Keep sector strategies simple and effective. Support for sectors should be based on clear criteria to ensure collaboration is genuinely productive.
  6. Make it last: clear indicators and independent monitoring. To be successful the industrial strategy must be long term in its outlook, measure progress against clear key performance indicators and be independently monitored to help ensure that it survives changes of Government.

The CBI is developing recommendations for how to unlock private financing for our infrastructure needs, which will be delivered in the autumn. The CBI is also undertaking a new piece of work to explore how technology, innovation and best practices get diffused throughout the supply chain, particularly in smaller companies to help increase productivity and will be publishing recommendations for business and government in autumn 2017.

By working together with a shared vision, business and Government can make this an industrial strategy that lasts and delivers tangible benefits to people and communities across the UK. The CBI and our members are committed to stepping up to the challenge.

It is a pleasure to read a paper that responds so positively to government ideas for industry. There has never been a UK proposal to encourage full cooperation between business and government to this extent, which sets out a clear strategy in a policy document that is intended to last beyond a parliament period. Not only does this paper include all the relevant points that should be part of an industrial strategy but the CBI is following on with further papers on infrastructure finance, technology and innovation.

It is so important that a subject such as this is discussed widely in the media and encouragement should be given to everyone who has relevant suggestions to put forward. While this industrial strategy is being formulated, this weekly comment and other contributors to this site will be contributing to the discussion. In the meantime, I recommend that you read the paper and make sure everyone you know is aware of this debate.

The consequences of Brexit are not yet known although there does appear to be some slowing of the economy as a direct result of the uncertainty that it creates. An industrial strategy and a fully costed financial plan to stimulate growth in the UK become vital if the effects are to be counteracted. It is encouraging to see something along these lines evolving and being supported by the foremost industrial institution in the country. Let’s hope it really does develop into a genuine economic and industrial plan that has been needed for such a long time.

That’s all for this week, more observations next week.