South West manufacturers welcome industrial commitment

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South west manufacturers have welcomed the government’s pledge to provide greater support to the UK’s industrial base.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson yesterday outlined the government’s intention to step up its commitment to industry – a policy signal welcomed by Clive Turner, Policy and Representation Manager for EEF South West Region, which represents local manufacturers.

He commented: “As a country we need to ween ourselves off our obsession with financial services and place greater emphasis on a more sustainable real economy. Lord Mandelson’s speech was a timely contribution to the debate about our economic future and addressed many of the right priorities. We now need to see the sense of urgency he conveyed translated into positive action.”

EEF believes that government, and any new industrial policy, has a role to play in two key areas. Firstly, it must continue to address long-term competitiveness issues such as skills, infrastructure, access to new markets and our regulatory environment and, secondly, the government must provide investment and support in markets where Britain has, or could have, a comparative advantage.

“The low-carbon economy is an area where this could be done in practice and one obvious lever is public procurement,” said Turner.

“At the same time we need to get much better at supporting emerging technologies – funding for R&D needs to be given greater priority, technology policy needs to be better coordinated and accompanying support made more accessible.

“Of course, a policy and plan for our long-term industrial competitiveness must start with efforts to address the immediate problems in the economy. It is vital that the government continues to take steps to ensure that well-run and productive manufacturers are not brought down by the failings of the financial system and are around to take advantage of the upturn.

“Now is exactly the time to look at the opportunities that lie ahead of us and start planning how to get there.”