As engineers and manufacturers, we have been interested to see how our sector is represented as the General Election grows nearer.
We were curious, then, to read the contents of the Manufacturing Manifesto, a pre-election document produced last week by the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG), which calls on the next Government to commit to helping and supporting the growth of the UK’s resurgent manufacturing and engineering sectors. In all, the document contains 19 recommendations covering areas such as innovation, skills, tax, SMEs and investment.
When it comes to innovation, there are calls to protect funding for incubators, such as Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Centre, as well as demands for permanent R&D tax credits to encourage private R&D. The need to defend Intellectual Property rights through robust legislation and enforcement is also listed.
To tackle the widespread shortage of skilled engineers in the UK, the manifesto says three key measures are required: They are prioritising engineering and STEM-related apprenticeships; encouraging better links between industry and the education curriculum and increasing the number of women in manufacturing and engineering.
On the question of taxation and finance, the manifesto calls for a competitive tax regime and adequate and permanent capital investment allowances. It also says all parties should work to simplify the process of applying for government support schemes, which currently can be over-complicated.
Support for SMEs – the lifeblood of the UK economy – should come in a number of areas, including encouraging a more diversified funding environment – with a mix of business angels, venture capitalists, private equity, bank finance, and crowdfunding; a commitment to use trade associations, local enterprise partnerships, universities and chambers of commerce to collaborate in policy-making; and the creation of a meaningful advisory service dedicated to supporting SMEs.
Finally, under the banner of Trade and Investment, there are calls for expanding the capacity of UK supply chains, encouraging international business and working towards helping manufacturing businesses establish themselves in all regions of the UK to encourage a geographically diverse and healthy manufacturing sector.
Many of these demands are on-going issues that have been the bones of contention for many years, but they are none the less valid points and it is good to see a concerted effort to ensure engineering and manufacturing is on the agenda as we approach May 7. Over the coming months as the debates hot up, we will be looking out for any real commitments in these areas, and, beyond that, searching for evidence that real action is taking place.
Warley Design offers mechanical design, engineering and product development services to a broad range of industries. If you’ve got a project we can help you with please contact us.