People & Skills  

Industry reflects on Autumn Statement 2012

Following Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement to Parliament on 5 December, the sentiment within industry seems be one of optimism and potential growth for the future
 Autumn Statement 2012, a step in the right direction?
 
 

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John Hammann, SAP Manufacturing Industry Principal for the UK and Ireland, reinforced the proposal that united, British industry will stand, but divided it may fall:

“I firmly believe that the growth of Britain’s manufacturing industry is crucial to prising the country from the grasp of the ‘trip dip’. I was therefore encouraged to see manufacturers so well represented on this year’s Fast Track 100 league table.

“Just three manufacturing business made it last year, but three times as many can now be found gracing its columns. No one can doubt the pressures facing British businesses for the past few years and, despite the Chancellor’s promises of new policies and reliefs to help SMEs, it looks like there are challenging times ahead.

“In spite of this, the nine businesses on this year’s list prove that growth is possible. With strategic thinking, innovation and the necessary business processes in place, British manufacturers can find a way to thrive and hold their Top Ten position in the world rankings.

“Much of this has to do with recognising and acting on opportunities in the market which, judging by this year’s manufacturing front runners, are diverse to say the least. From wind turbines to drinks, packaged food to leather seating – all of these manufacturers have discovered how to put technology at the heart of their growth plan allowing them to punch well above their weight.

“But it also has a lot to do with mind-set. No matter the size of the business, if you think like a big company, you can act like one. Placing innovation at the core of each strategy, embracing new approaches to challenge barriers and, just as importantly, having the kind of approach that will attract and retain the best talent out there, are the key drivers to growth.

“Watching and learning from these companies will provide us all with important lessons on what it takes to succeed in a less than ideal marketplace. British manufacturing is still a power to be reckoned with and it’s up to us to ensure that this continues to be the case; not just for the sake of the industry, but for the sake of the country’s recovery overall.”

 

Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturer’s organisation, Terry Scuoler says the policies introduced are a step in the right direction, but further support must be provided:

“The Chancellor demonstrated that he has his hands firmly on the levers of growth and is pulling them to support growth which is driven by exports and investment. The measures on the annual investment allowance, the headline rate of corporation tax, export support and infrastructure spending have laid the foundations of a strategy to ensure business chooses to invest and grow in the UK.

“However, the scale of the challenges our economy faces means we must keep our foot on the accelerator. We cannot afford to see further downgrades on growth in output and business investment, and government must therefore set out how its economic priorities are going to drive its spending plans.

“We have seen how its ambition to double our exports by 2020 has driven concrete action and this clear sense of priorities must now drive the decisions it takes in next year’s Budget and Spending Review.”

 

In response to a line indicating that the Government will provide £120 million to the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative, Dr Christos Tsinopoulos, Senior Lecturer in Operations & Project Management at Durham University Business School commented:

“Initiatives that are aimed at supporting the UK's supply chain are always welcome.  The devil is always in detail, which is not yet available, and one could argue that given the potential overall impact of the sector the proposed sum is not significant.

“Nevertheless, such initiatives send a positive signal about the importance of manufacturing in the UK's economy and the role that the government wants to play in supporting it.

“The challenge with the implementation of such an initiative (as with the previous one) will be to find the projects that will have the highest impact.  Finding winners will be challenging, but projects that support ‘high end manufacturing’ and support high technology would be the ones I would vouch for.”

 

The key points from this year’s Autumn Statement can be found here, with those relating specifically to business, innovation and skills here, and EEF’s full response here.

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