Prime minister Theresa May

Prime minister Theresa May

Firms react to Industrial Strategy

Businesses are reacting to the Government’s plans to take a ‘new, active role’ in boosting the economy.

The green paper sets out ways in which the government can provide support to businesses by addressing regulatory barriers, agreeing trade deals and helping to establish institutions that encourage innovation and skills development.

The 10-point plan involves:

  • Investing in science, research and innovation
  • Developing skills
  • Upgrading infrastructure
  • Supporting business to start and grow
  • Improving government procurement
  • Encouraging trade and inward investment
  • Delivering affordable energy and clean growth
  • Cultivating world-leading sectors
  • Driving growth across the whole country
  • Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places

The fund is part of £4.7bn in additional funding for research and development first announced in November.

The strategy also focuses on devolution deals, reaffirming support for the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine initiatives using previously-announced funds.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “This active government will build on Britain’s strategic strengths and tackle our underlying weaknesses, like low productivity. This is vital because if we want to increase our overall prosperity, if we want more people to share in that prosperity, if we want higher real wages, and if we want more opportunities for young people to get on – we have to raise our productivity.”

The publication of the green paper is an opportunity for businesses to get directly involved with the formation of this strategy. Responses are invited until 17th April.

Reactions:

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “Today’s announcement sends a strong signal that industry’s calls for a modern, comprehensive and robust industrial strategy have not fallen on deaf ears. The strategic pillars outlined today touch upon some of the key weaknesses, areas of concern and opportunities for business which, if tackled, will provide a huge tonic to Britain’s future economic growth.

“The right industrial strategy will provide the springboard for future British economic success. It must live up to the promise of driving different behaviours and outcomes for the British economy, which requires the whole of Government working together to support it with clear leadership from the Prime Minister and her Cabinet. The fact that the PM has unveiled these plans herself suggests that this message too has successfully landed.”

Kevin Caley, founder and chairman of P2P lender ThinCats, comments: “The Prime Minister has put business and infrastructure investment high up on the government’s agenda, and hopefully this Green Paper will finally lead to a more proactive approach to businesses growth across the UK.

“Alternative finance has been a lifeline for thousands of these SMEs in the last decade, and the sector is now benefitting from the UK’s collaborative approach to setting regulation. This approach has helped the alternative finance thrive during challenging times and ensured that the sector has a key role to play in Mrs May’s vision of the future for UK industry.”

Cllr Bob Sleigh, chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “As the Green Paper makes clear, local authorities and the WMCA, working with our Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are the key institutions to take forward this Industrial Strategy at the local level.

“Working in this new devolved way, the WMCA, LEPs and wider business community are striving to create a climate in which all our companies, from the thousands of SMEs and supply chain firms right through to our global brands like JLR, Codemasters and Cadbury, can thrive and cement the West Midlands’ role as a dynamic exporter and global trader.”

Ricky Nicol, CEO of Scottish firm Commsworld, said: “It is now broadly accepted that the success of our tech and communications industries are critically important to our future prosperity as a nation. 

"What is important however, is that we learn the hard lessons of the past and foster competition beyond the established sector giants. This is vital if we are to properly harness the talent and innovation currently driving the digital and telecoms industries.

“To secure a positive long-term future for all parts of the UK, we simply must see a greater role for smaller local companies to work in tandem with larger organisations to provide the best possible service to everyone.”

Energy and Industry Minister Jesse Norman said: “Scotland makes a huge contribution to the UK’s economy, cementing it as the fifth largest worldwide. The Government's new Industrial Strategy is designed to build on Scotland’s economic strengths within the UK as a whole, creating more opportunities, prosperity and jobs.

“The birthplace of Adam Smith and David Hume, Scotland has huge economic strengths, including in financial services, life sciences, higher education and research, quantum technologies and advanced manufacturing. We believe that a really effective Industrial Strategy needs to build on those capabilities, and help create new ones. 

"Our new Industrial Strategy provides an opportunity for the UK to make fresh choices about how its economy develops. We invite people and businesses across Scotland to have their say in shaping it, so that growth and well-being can be more widely spread in an economy that works for all.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland Andrew Dunlop said: “The UK Government's Industrial Strategy is an ambitious plan to deliver a high productivity, competitive economy in Scotland. We want to build on the success of the UK City Deals to help growth reach right across Scotland. 

“With our world-class exporters and internationally-respected research hubs, Scotland is ready to realise its potential. By boosting our digital connectivity, exporting the expertise of our oil and gas industry, and investing in innovative renewable technologies, we can create an economy fit for the future.”