Half-way through the Conservative Party’s eight-week contest to decide who will be its new leader and the UK’s new prime minister, it seems that manufacturing has not been referred to, at least by the two remaining candidates.
Neither Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak appear to have said anything at all about the sector, upon which at least one fifth of the UK economy currently depends, either directly or indirectly.
As a reminder, in February the government said: “We must… reverse the historic decline in manufacturing in the UK”. We were awaiting a Manufacturing Investment Prospectus, albeit that was expected to have nothing new in terms of policy of money. The government-funded High Value Manufacturing Catapult has a vision of doubling UK manufacturing’s direct contribution to GDP to 20% by 2030 but that is not agreed with the business department, BEIS. Meanwhile, Singapore’s manufacturing sector already accounts for 20% and that country aims to increase that to 30% this decade.
There are still four weeks left of the contest. It would be good to hear where Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak stand on manufacturing.
This week, Truss was at Reliance Precision in Huddersfield, a leading advanced engineering and manufacturing firm working in many sectors. She was there with defence secretary Ben Wallace and met the company’s apprentices, as well as its directors and other staff. Doubtless Truss and Wallace will have gained new insights into the importance of manufacturing and the opportunities for both individuals and the UK as a whole.