The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has a new director of advanced manufacturing, the change coming at a critical time for the sector.

Fred Perry was principal private secretary to secretary of state Kwasi Kwarteng, and before that was deputy director for global supply chains at the Department for International Trade.  He has also worked in the delivery unit at No 10.  Perry takes over from Hannah Boardman, who is on maternity leave and it is understood she will not be resuming the role on her return.

Manufacturing faces critical challenges, due to Brexit, a global trend towards re-shoring, and supply chain disruptions which have been made worse by the war in Ukraine.  In addition, the government has identified a new imperative for the UK to “reverse the historic decline in manufacturing in the UK” but has yet to set how it sees the role of government in achieving that.

The new imperative to revive manufacturing was set out in the White Paper on Levelling Up, which is the prime minister’s flagship policy.  But there appears to be no consensus at Cabinet level as to what it means in practice – or even the extent to which manufacturing matters.

The BEIS-funded High Value Manufacturing Catapult has a vision to double manufacturing’s contribution to GDP by 2030 – but that vision is not agreed with ministers, BEIS says.  The issue is likely to become more prominent in the coming months.

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