The need for a change of mindset

Published:  22 March, 2021

Prior to the recent Budget, Make UK said this year’sannouncement should be a starting point to set out a major long-term industrial and economic strategy on a scale not seen since the Marshall Plan to ensure the UK takes advantage of its world class science base and growth in new technologies - I couldn’t have agreed more!

This call came off the back of Make UK’s latest Manufacturing Monitor tracking survey which showed that companies are preparing for a long-haul recovery from the current pandemic. However, although the Chancellor’s Budget announcements included some further much-needed  short-term tactical measures to help support companies through this year, it did not go far enough in terms of developing a longer-term strategic vision that set out how the UK can prosper in the coming years.

In particular, Make UK believed this required a change in mindset from Government that went beyond simply thinking about how we can diverge from the EU, to how the UK can benefit from digital technologies, the innovation derived from academia and growth opportunities from the transformation to a net zero economy by 2050. As Make UK has pointed out, the announcement of a new science research agency to invest in cutting edge blue-sky technologies, can also be the starting gun on a new era of technological advance and opportunity.

As Stephen Phipson, Make UK’s CEO, recently emphasised, a longterm Industrial Strategy must look ahead twenty years and involve a laser like focus on innovation based on a partnership between the public and private sectors, together with our world class science base.

The Chancellor should have presented comprehensive strategies to enhance and support new Manufacturing Skills Taskforce, greater reform of the Apprenticeship Levy, and roll out the Made Smarter initiative across all regions.

The Budget was therefore arguably a missed opportunity to create a clear plan for the long term vision of the economy and how the Government was going to seize the opportunity provided by new technologies and the drive towards net zero.

Having left the EU, we now need a drive and vision to ensure we build on new markets in the UK as well as support for exporters to help them compete in global ones overseas. A greater emphasis on how to achieve is still needed – let’s hope a government change of mindset is on the horizon

Aaron Blutstein, Editor

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