UK Industrial Strategy



By Barry Edwards

UK Industrial Strategy

The government published their white paper on industrial strategy on Monday this week, as promised, which is a lengthy document with lots of detail about how they plan to implement the strategy and where it is already in progress. Consequently, it is 255 pages long and you can look through the white paper if you click on the link below; it takes a few moments to load up.

There has been very thorough consultation prior to the publication of this paper with every person and organisation who wanted to contribute being considered and properly acknowledged. That has made it representative of national opinion and genuinely comprehensive in its conclusions. In my view it achieves its purpose and is a big change from the piecemeal approach of the past.

The main thrust of the paper is that government accepts it cannot do everything and is planning to work closely with the regions, business and universities to make sure the strategy is implemented to achieve the ambitions set out in the paper. The government has allocated resources to support the plan but most commentators have stated the sums announced are inadequate to make a real difference to the economy post Brexit. To give you some idea of the basis of the strategy, below are some extracts from the introduction;

Our vision is for:  1. The world’s most innovative economy; 2. Good jobs and greater earning power for all; 3. A major upgrade to the UK’s infrastructure; 4. The best place to start and grow a business; 5. Prosperous communities across the UK.

To achieve this, we must ensure every part of our country realises its full potential. We are taking action now, including making the biggest ever increase in public investment in research and development, establishing a new fund to drive productivity by improving connections within city regions, and agreeing Sector Deals which will drive transformation in investment and productivity across the economy. This Industrial Strategy is for the long term. It provides a policy framework against which major private and public sector investment decisions can be made with confidence. It is a strategy that is being implemented with, not just for, British enterprise – with the full involvement of innovators, investors, job creators, workers and consumers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Our consultation reinforced the importance of five foundations of productivity – the essential attributes of every successful economy. These are Ideas, People, Infrastructure, Business Environment and Places. Our focus on them responds to the detailed feedback to the Green Paper. Our five foundations align to our vision for a transformed economy – a transformation that is already taking place and will accelerate over the course of the coming decades:

The paper does accept that there are many things wrong with the UK economy going some way to concur with the report mentioned in last week’s comment from The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). Since the IPPR is a government funded and business sponsored organisation, it should mean that the problems they have identified will start to be addressed as the industrial strategy is executed.

It is refreshing to see government making a genuine effort to plan a proper long-term strategy to reform and improve the UK economy which has been needed for many decades. There does appear to be real support from commercial and academic organisations to get behind this plan. They have been requesting that a proper strategy should have been part of government planning for many years to allow them to make long-term plans for their companies supported by a well trained workforce to make it happen.

Not everything will work as planned and the government accepts that there will have to be new thinking and changes made as the strategy unfolds. Inevitably more resources will be required to fully achieve the ambitions set out in this paper. All of us should assist where we can since ultimately we will be the beneficiaries of the growth in the economy that is accomplished.

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

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